Photographer Helen Murray captures #OurEmptyTheatres
A London-based photographer sends a love letter to the UK’s closed arts venues during the Coronavirus crisis and asks the very important question, what do these silent spaces mean to us?
Wednesday 18 March 2020 will always be a memorable moment for our organisation. Along with other live event venues, we closed our doors to the general public and to this day, our theatres have remained still, our backstage silent, our seats empty. 2020 has continued to be a period of great change and uncertainty for arts and culture organisations all over the UK, and one woman has been committed to capturing this in an artistic way.
‘Shooting this series has been heartbreaking. Going back to into these spaces, I was met with total silence. No background noise, no chitter chatter, no infectious laughs bellowing out of a rehearsal room.’
— Helen Murray
At the start of lockdown, photographer Helen Murray set herself the challenge to come up with a project that responded to what the industry was facing. ‘I milled over many ideas,’ she explains, ‘but what I kept coming back to was our empty theatres – these spaces that were now without life, without people and without stories.’
Thus, her project #OurEmptyTheatres was born. Over the following months, following social distancing guidelines, Helen and her cameras got to work. She visited and captured a total of 22 theatre spaces from the cities of London, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.
‘These spaces, which I’ve been going to on a weekly basis since I’ve first moved to London from Derry in 2006,’ she recounts, ‘are where I’ve met my best mates, where I had my first paid job, where I encountered my first ‘famous person’, where I became an artist.’
‘What are these buildings, without all the glorious, wonderful, different kinds of people that make these spaces? What are they without those armies of freelancers, permanent staff, ushers, volunteers, community and audience members?’
— Helen Murray
‘I ask – what do our empty theatres mean to you? Each and every one of us that walks through these doors has our own relationship with these spaces and our own stories to tell. They belong to all of us. My photos are a love letter to not just the theatres but the whole community that inhabit them.’
— Helen Murray
Helen’s mission is to start a conversation about our own emotional responses to these silent spaces. She invites you all to share with her what #OurEmptyTheatres means to you by using the hashtag.
Whilst we are running online events and staying connected to you digitally at this time, our physical buildings sadly still remain closed. Please donate to safeguard the future of Shakespeare’s Globe. Thank you.
HELP SUPPORT OUR BELOVED THEATRE.
We recently temporarily closed our doors to the public until further notice. As a charity that receives no regular government subsidy, we desperately need your support, more than ever before.
Please donate any amount, small or large, so that we can continue to thrive in the future.