Actress Liz Carr calls for theatres to host facemask-only performances

Ms Carr hopes theatres will remain accessible to those with health conditions

Published

Actress Liz Carr has called for theatres to host facemask-only performances for audiences who want to be Covid-safer.

She made the plea at Sunday’s Olivier Awards, where she won the best supporting actress prize for her role in A Normal Heart, a play about the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York.

Ms Carr, one of the most high-profile disabled actors in the UK, said: "Theatre should remain accessible even to those of us who have health conditions."

After accepting her award, she spoke backstage at the Royal Albert Hall.

She said: "If I'd had a five-minute speech, I would've talked about how I haven't been to the theatre in over two years. This is a frightening night for me.

"Now, you could say 'yeah but you did a play, Liz, in front of 1,200 people every night.'

Liz Carr at the Laurence Olivier Awards on Sunday
Liz Carr at the Laurence Olivier Awards on Sunday
Her Majesty's Theatre, London
Her Majesty's Theatre, London

"Yes, but I was on stage with everybody who was testing, everybody in the cast tested every day, so I felt safer than being a random member of the public in an audience around people I didn't know."

The requirement to wear a facemask in the UK ended in late January of this year.

NHS Confederation chiefs have since called for them to be re-introduced as a legal requirement as Covid cases soar, putting immense pressure on hospitals across the UK.

Ms Carr added: "I'm not sure about [the issue of] everybody wearing facemasks, personally I think yes, they should, in indoor environments because Covid-19 is airborne.

"But I think theatres could think about having safer performances. I think they should have facemask performances that are more socially distanced. In the same way you might have a British sign language performance, I think you should have Covid-safer performances."

She recalled: "Some of my friends who weren't ready to come and see the show, they came to see the dress rehearsal, because they didn't feel safe enough to come.

"So I think performances with less capacity and mandatory facemasks, every show should be doing that to make sure theatre remains accessible even to those of us who have health conditions."