Helen Murray: Our Empty Theatres

Friday 24th July 2020

The Royal Court. Photo: Helen Murray
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Does empty necessarily mean lifeless? From the start of lockdown, photographer Helen Murray set herself the challenge of both documenting the silent spaces of the theatre landscape and telling a positive story about them. The result is Our Empty Theatres, a beautifully eloquent gallery of 22 photographs of different venues, along with some 100 quotes from creatives, from directors to gaffers. She went to Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester, interviewing writers, directors, designers, wig-makers, performers and front of house staff to ask what the empty spaces meant to them. Having had plenty of experience of these venues when they are buzzing with people, she was shocked to wander around their emptiness, strangely silent: “No background noise, no chitter chatter, no infectious laughs bellowing out of a rehearsal room, just complete silence. The stark opposite of what they should be.” Still, these lovely pictures are perfectly expressive of the beauty of abandonment. This online exhibition really is a love letter both to theatres and to the people who work in them. And they have a life of their own.

© Aleks Sierz

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