An actor's life: "the theatre world is resilient, creative and forward-thinking"
Nicholas Pound is a professional actor/singer who has performed in theatre for over 35 years. He has played leading roles in Les Miserables, The Rocky Horror Show, Chess, Evita, Notre Dame de Paris and Man of La Mancha.
He has had a long association with the role of Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. He moved to Old Town in Eastbourne 5 years ago, having lived in Spain for 9 years where he was the founder of vocal harmony group Tres Divos and hosted his own weekly radio show The Sound of Musicals on Talk Radio Europe.
Nicholas shares his thoughts....
"It’s been a tough year for theatreland. All British theatres shut their doors to the public on the 16th March last year, a week before the first official lockdown was announced. Theatres were the first businesses to close, and sadly will be the last to reopen. We have a roadmap for the physical reopening of theatres, but what we don’t have is a roadmap for the mental attitude of the public. Once restrictions have been lifted at the end of June, we can only hope and pray that people will feel confident enough to want to flock back into Victorian theatres with cramped seating that was designed for our shorter-legged ancestors. At first, the prospect of sitting closely next to other audience members (some of them undoubtedly coughing!) will seem quite daunting. It will take time to readjust and begin to feel comfortable again.
"But being in an audience and watching a show is a shared experience that can’t be enjoyed in the same way socially distanced. We have to be brave enough to return to sharing an arm rest with a total stranger and huddling round the bar during the interval, drinking overpriced, lukewarm white wine. We’ll also have to get used to wearing masks in theatres for some time to come, I fear.
"The ‘ghost light’ is a very bright illuminated lamp, usually caged and on a stand, that is left on stage when an empty theatre is ‘dark’ or otherwise unoccupied. Its practical use is for safety – to avoid any member of staff tripping or falling into the orchestra pit in the dark. There is a story that it was initially introduced after a burglar broke into a theatre, tripped on stage in the pitch black, broke his leg and successfully sued the theatre owner for damages. Probably a theatrical shaggy dog story, but a good tale nontheless.
"Superstition also suggests – and we thespians are a superstitious bunch, you know – that the light was left on to grant the theatre ghost(s) the opportunity to perform on stage. In this way, they might be appeased into not placing a curse on the theatre or sabotaging the set of the next production!
"During the pandemic, many theatres have returned to the tradition of the ghost light as a poignant and powerful symbol to indicate that the theatre will reopen, the show will return and so will the audiences.
"The closure of theatres has been unprecedented – it has never happened before, not even during the two world wars. Other businesses that rely on large theatre audiences have also suffered as a knock-on effect. With few foreign tourists visiting Britain, our world-renowned theatres will struggle to make back lost revenue. Some will survive, others sadly won’t. This will be part of the ‘new normal’ we’ll have to come to terms with.
"But the theatre world is resilient, creative and forward-thinking. We have a drive and a passion to entertain.
"Audiences need us. We will be back!"