Fringe Box



‘A Visible Sign That Things Are Coming Back to Normal’ – the Yvonne Arnaud Reopens

Published on: 4 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 6 Jun, 2021

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre with its doors open once more. Some members of the audience lingered for chats after the show.

By Martin Giles

In another sign that Guildford is on its cautious way out of the pandemic, its leading theatre opened its doors last night for the first time since the second prolonged lockdown.

At the Yvonne Arnaud, an audience of 130 watched the first night of a two-handed comedy production of the Sherlock Holmes classic The Hound of the Baskervilles written, in the theatre, during lockdown, by its leading player Sara Crowe.

Members of the front of house team who checked mask-wearing and carried out temperature checks

Extra safety restrictions required many seats to be taped off to ensure social distancing. The theatre’s capacity has been reduced to 220. Mask-wearing is mandatory throughout the performance, there is no interval, a temperature check of all attendees is conducted on entry and registration through the NHS Test & Trace app, or sign in, is required.

Sally Anne Lowe the theatre’s Director of Marketing and Customer Experience, said after the show: “We are really happy to be open again with a home-grown production. It’s so good to be back and has actually been quite emotional for some of us.”

Ferenc Hepp’s review of the show will be published next week. Please check back.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

In the audience, was GBC council leader, Joss Bigmore and his wife Holly. He said: “Opening night at the Yvonne Arnaud is yet another milestone on the road to recovery, and an important symbol that our lives are returning to something more normal.

“I have been very vocal that our community needs to support our local businesses and attractions. Many continue to face existential risk, it really is a case of ‘use them or lose them’ so I was very happy to put my money where my mouth is and take my wife for a well-deserved night out.

“I am hopeful that further restrictions can be lifted on the 21st, but pragmatic enough to realise that it may be necessary to delay a few weeks until we are confident that any new variants will not cause our hospitals to become overrun.”

Among the invited guests were the High Sheriff of Surrey, Julie Llewelyn, Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson and former Guildford Mayor Richard Billington with his wife Lynda.

Angela Richardson MP for Guildford

Ms Richardson said: “It was an honour to be in the audience at the Yvonne Arnaud last night and how wonderful for the fine and talented actors to have an audience to perform for. Brilliant, energetic adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Siobhan Bennet which had so many laugh out loud moments and a clever set.

“I congratulate all at the Yvonne Arnaud for bringing this production to life and encourage everyone to support all our Arts and Culture venues in Guildford. They make our town very special indeed!”

Cllr Billington added: “After the long closure caused by Covid-19 this was a chance for the massive amount of hard work by all those involved to lead the theatre’s way out of lockdown.

Cllr Richard Billington

“For Guildford, it is a visible sign that things are coming back to normal.  Slowly and carefully maybe, but the Yvonne Arnaud is back to life and the theatrical heart of Guildford is beating again.

“Hopefully, further restrictions will be relaxed on June 21st. Nothing can be certain but if we take care some more normality will return and Guildford will rise again.”

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