Our Empty Theatres

All photos copyright and credited to Helen Murray.

Master Collage Top row left to right – The Almeida, Bush Theatre, Liverpool EverymanMiddle row left to right – Royal Court, Leeds Playhouse, Young Vic Bottom row left to right – Battersea Arts Centre, The Criterion, Lyric Hammersmith 

Photographer, Helen Murray has curated a photography story featuring 22 empty theatres and quotes from over 100 members of the UK’s theatre community responding to Murray’s photos which were all taken during lockdown.

12. Our Empty Theatres_LYRIC HAMMERSMITH_Helen Murray145
OUR EMPTY THEATRES ; Lyric Hammersmith ; London, UK ; 29th May 2020 ; Credit: Helen Murray / ArenaPAL ; http://www.arenapal.com

 Our Empty Theatres was all done within the Gov guidelines and it sees theatres in Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.  As part of the project, Murray contacted those working in theatre from wig makers to designers, to writers to the front of house staff asking them for their response to our empty theatres.

Commenting on the series photographer Helen Murray says;

Shooting this series has been sobering. Going back to into these spaces that I know so well and being met with total silence. No background noise, no chitter-chatter, no infectious laughs bellowing out of a rehearsal room, just complete silence.

Helen Murray is a theatre photographer originally from Derry, Northern Ireland. She’s shot over 250 shows in London and across the UK. Helen was chosen to receive The Theatre and Technology Award’s Best Production Photography Award in 2017


My photos are a love letter to not just the theatres themselves but to the people, artists and communities who give these buildings life.  I invite you to share what #OurEmptyTheatres means to you.

13. Our Empty Theatres_MANCHESTER ROYAL EXCHANGE_Helen Murray17
OUR EMPTY THEATRES ; Manchester Royal Exchange ; Manchester, UK ; 18th July 2020 ; Credit: Helen Murray / ArenaPAL ; http://www.arenapal.com

Helen Murray visited many theatres, one being the Royal Exchange, Gloria Akpoke, a young company member at Manchester Royal Exchange said; 

“To me, empty theatres are bodies without a heartbeat. Empty theatres are places where magic has been taken from our mundane world. It means a place that once shared laughter, sadness, love and every emotion through storytelling has now been silenced. An empty Theatre is like creating a microphone and not letting anyone use it to sing.” 

15. Our Empty Theatres_ROYAL COURT_Helen Murray112
EMPTY THEATRES ; Royal Court ; London, UK ; 9th June 2020 ; Credit: Helen Murray / ArenaPAL ; http://www.arenapal.com



The full series is available now on Murray’s website

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