In light of the most recent government advice due to COVID-19, The Original Theatre Company’s production of Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art, which was due to open at Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne on 18 March 2020, will now perform a closed filmed performance on the same day at 2pm.
Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne has made the decision to close the theatre to the public, however the company of The Habit of Art, having rehearsed for three weeks, still wanted to perform. The performance will be filmed and the hope is that it will be made available to audiences in due course to download.
Alastair Whatley, artistic director of The Original Theatre Company said:
“We are so sad that our much loved production of The Habit of Art is being forced off the road in these exceptional circumstances. We all have some testing times ahead and I hope that this filmed recording will provide our audiences now at home with some welcome inspiration, entertainment and remind us all of the vital importance of art and all those who make it.”
Matthew Kelly, who plays W.H.Auden/Fitz, said: “We are all devastated by the developments and the cancellation of our show, but very happy that people will now be able to see the show… without a sanitiser.”
The Habit of Art is directed by Philip Franks and stars Matthew Kelly as Fitz (W. H. Auden), David Yelland as Henry (Benjamin Britten), Veronica Roberts (Kay, the stage manager), Robert Moutnford (Neil, the author), John Wark (Donald/Humphrey Carpenter), Jessica Dennis (George, the assistant stage manager) and Benjamin Chandler (Tim/Stuart).
Bennett’s The Habit of Art premiered at the National Theatre in November 2009, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Frances de la Tour. The National then toured the production in Autumn 2010 with a new cast led by Desmond Barrit, Malcolm Sinclair and Selina Caddell.
This production has been directed by Franks and designed by Adrian Linford, with lighting by Johanna Town, sound by Max Pappenheim and casting by Joyce Nettles.
The company is awaiting further information from the government and theatres about the rest of the tour.