We are writing this with heavy hearts and with news that we suppose is not unexpected in light of the government's recent announcements .
Hotbuckle will not be able to tour Tess this Spring. It is untenable in almost every respect. The theatres booked on our tour are going dark as we speak. Audiences are at the moment discouraged but we suspect soon may be legally banned from attending theatres and performances. Without audiences, we have no income, let alone any profit and as Hotbuckle is an unfunded, independent company, it would therefore make significant losses due to the inevitable outgoings of actors wages and general rehearsal and touring costs. It's a sad case of cutting our losses.
We haven’t taken this decision lightly, and have sought advice from multiple sources on the possibility of severe disruption during the peak time of our touring schedule in May-June which would coincide with what the Government has identified as the time the infection rate will peak.
We owe a duty of care to our actors who would be exposing themselves to a higher risk of infection by working for us. We have also reached the conclusion that the virus presents an insurmountable business interruption threat if one of our actors should fall ill. When touring, actors share close contact in vehicles and hotel rooms. If one of our actors falls ill, they will need to isolate for 7 days under the current guidance and 14 days isolation for anyone in close contact - the rest of the cast, which would mean the tour would have to stop. There is no commercially-viable understudy model that could cover this eventuality; and even if the entire cast were replaced, the replacement cast would still be exposed to the same risks.
We owe a duty of care to our audiences as well as to our actors. We think it would be highly irresponsible to encourage people to travel and congregate in large numbers during the proposed peak of the outbreak. In addition, those aged over 70 are being told to self-isolate for at least 12 weeks, and that demographic comprises a significant part of our audience.
Therefore, we conclude that given the reasons mentioned above the 2020 Hotbuckle Spring tour of Tess is unviable -
We will return at the end of this year - all being well - with our Autumn tour of Great Expectations.
Sending everyone our thoughts and very best wishes in these testing times
Adrian, Fiona, Jo
As compensation and in the knowledge that many of you/us will be yearning for something 'else' to do in the next few weeks while in isolation, we would like to give you the opportunity to watch a performance of Tess. Filmed at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury last November in front of a live audience. Please feel free to watch and if you feel able to make a donation (any amount however small) to help cover our losses throughout this period it would be much appreciated! Thank you and enjoy!