How the theatre and film industry adapted during the pandemic

Cinephiles and theatre enthusiasts were met with dismay when the doors to their favourite establishments closed, in order to comply with social distancing. Film productions were halted for months and plays had to be cancelled or postponed across Ireland, with a surge in digital projects arising.

The Gaiety Theatre cancelled several performances including The Lieutenant of Inismore which was meant to run through March, and Riverdance which was scheduled from June to September. However, other performances have been postponed with an unconfirmed date such as Circle of Friends.

The theatre company AboutFACE Ireland created a digital project after their June show was cancelled, bringing actors and writers from both Ireland and America together for a series of digital productions entitled Transatlantic Tales 2020.

The eight short plays were recorded through Zoom and are now available in full on YouTube, making for an interesting and entertaining experience for viewers through the screen.

When restrictions were lifted across the country during the summer, theatres reopened with reduced seating capacity and mandatory facemasks.

Most cinemas also reopened on July 29th with similar precautions in place and the release dates of larger films were pushed back with classics like Harry Potter and Grease making a comeback by popular demand.

This gave avid cinema goers a chance to rewatch their favourite films on the big screen, at a discounted price.

The first major release in cinemas since reopening was Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’. Speaking to The Journal.ie, Charlene Lyndon, programmer of the Light House cinema in Dublin said “Tenet for us will be massive – we’ve sold load of tickets. But if there was never a Tenet we were doing ok.”

Operating at a 30% capacity, the Light House was showing smaller films but has been doing well considering, according to Lyndon. However since this interview all theatres and cinemas in Dublin have closed for three weeks due to an increase in cases in the capitol.

The highly acclaimed thriller ‘Tenet’ runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes, meaning smaller cinemas have a reduced amount of showings per day, therefore having a restricted amount of tickets on sale.

The production of historical drama film ‘The Last Duel’ in Ireland was also halted during the lockdown, starring Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Ben Affleck and Jodie Comer.

As the production of the film advertised for large numbers of extras they had to ensure safe regulations before filming resumed in areas across Dublin, Tipperary and Wicklow.

The Galway Film Fleadh streamed their 32nd annual award show online in July, which was their first digital edition and with four major categories, fourteen awards were distributed.

Globally, the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) took place this month with virtual red carpets, digital screenings and drive-ins. The festival usually attracts almost half a million annually, but has worked hard to create an impressive virtual experience for this year.

The Arts sector in Ireland has adapted and evolved with the ‘new normal’, fully utilising the power of a digital platform to showcase various projects.

Certainly, the theatre and film industry as a whole has made the effort to engage with audiences during this testing time, be it on the big screen or a little one.

Natasha Lynch

Image Credit: Flickr