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Darwin theatre becomes first in Australia to reopen following the lockdown

Darwin theatre becomes first in Australia to reopen following the lockdown
June 1, 2020

With no confirmed cases of community transmission of Coronavirus in the Northern Territory, the Brown’s Mart Theatre in Darwin is set to reopen this Friday (5th June), becoming the first theatre in Australia to reopen following the lockdown.

The reopening will see live music sessions presented in the theatre’s courtyard from 5pm to 7pm on 5th June, followed by the monthly play reading series, Evening Reads, inside the theatre at 7:30pm.

As reported by ArtsHub, Brown’s Mart’s Artistic Director, Sean Pardy explained "we are proud to be the last theatre closed and the first theatre open in Australia if not the world. It is our pleasure to continue to add to the cultural and social fabric of the Northern Territory."

“We are currently in stage two or three of the restrictions lifting, and if the cafés and the pubs that serve meals are anything to go by, the people are hungry and keen to get back to things - for life to return to normal. And that lack of community transmission, I think, makes an enormous difference psychologically about people feeling safe.”

The Brown’s Mart team still have a number of logistics to work through before the theatre re-opens, ranging from cashless payments and markings to show where people should queue for the bar, through to how many people can be in the toilets at any one time.

Pardy told ArtsHub "the courtyard’s obviously got advantages because it’s outside, and of course we’ve still got some restrictions in place, such as the 1.5 metres (between patrons) restriction.

“Then we’re moving to readings next, mainly because they’re low risk and also we can configure the theatre so it can fit more people even when the sight lines are terrible. It’s one of those funny things where a director would normally say, ‘No, I don’t want it in that configuration because the sight lines are hard’, but for a play reading they’re less important - we’re more concerned about the words. Also, play readings are way easier to organise, as anyone would appreciate, than a full-scale production.”

While Darwin’s isolation is sometimes a challenge for the creative industries, in this case it has actually proved to be of benefit, Pardy believes, adding “our geographic disadvantage has been turned into a geographic advantage in this case, you’re dead right. We honestly feel like we’re in the luckiest place in the country, if not the world.”

Images: The courtyard at the Brown’s Mart Theatre in Darwin (top) and the venue by night (below). Images courtesy of Tourism Top End.

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