It is “not financially viable” for the Royal Shakespeare Company to put on productions with social distancing measures in place inside theatres, according to its executive director.
Catherine Mallyon said the RSC needs theatres to be close to capacity “to get the financial model to work”.
She added that theatres across the country are facing a “grave” situation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Mallyon told the PA news agency: “It is quite straightforward, to be honest, it isn’t financially viable for us to operate in our normal way with social distancing.
“We normally have 80%, 90% audiences and we need that to get the financial model to work.
“So if we are down to 20% audiences, it is just not possible with the productions we do.”
Ms Mallyon added that it “just isn’t possible” for the RSC to “produce shows in the way we do” in its main theatre in Stratford within the guidelines.
The RSC has lost 75% of its normal income and has had to place around 90% of its staff on furlough.
If there is a gap between the end of Government support and the return of audiences to theatres the company will face “vulnerability”, she added.
“If there is a long gap from now to when that starts without additional support then honestly every venue will be absolutely vulnerable to the worst outcome,” she said.
“We are remaining optimistic and we hope that we will be able to get shows on at some point next year, but sadly it is really impossible to be completely confident that everything will be fine.”
Ms Mallyon also said she fears audience numbers will not immediately bounce back once theatres are allowed to open again.
“We doubt we will be selling as many tickets as we were selling from the start of reopening,” she said.
“It feels as though there’s likely to be a bit of time of people getting used to coming back into the theatres, particularly if the clearance to open them is a while away.”
On Tuesday the RSC announced that a number of events and productions are being postponed or cancelled because of the ongoing pandemic.
The Wars Of The Roses Part 1 and Part 2 have been postponed from autumn 2020 until next year.
New family musical The Magician’s Elephant has been postponed from winter 2020 until winter 2021.