Professional theatre and all the other satellites of the entertainment world have, of course, been hit very hard by the Covid-19 situation but let us not forget those other stalwarts of theatre, those marvellous people who perform in front or behind the tabs for the sheer joy of doing so. Yes the Non-pros were also hit very hard in 2020 but here’s to better news as 2021 progresses.

Many productions which promised so much have been postponed at best but in many cases completely wiped out causing much heartache for those who were so keen to take part and were well into rehearsals. All is not lost although there are reports that some groups may never perform again.

Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society are among those who had to cancel performances. This is a group with a fantastic history dating back to 1890 when it was formed and one of only about half a dozen such societies in the entire country.

As might be expected the society has had its ups and downs, changes of venue and the joy of celebrating its centenary in 1990. Here we are 30 years later and its April production of Company had to be cancelled.

Talking to local media Lewis Carlisle, Chairman of the society admitted, “It’s a real worry how we will survive financially. It’s not just the ticket revenues we’re losing – we can’t do any publicity, it’s hard to charge members, we’ve no social events or fundraisers. There’s no income and no support.

“We risk losing tens of thousands of pounds if we put a show on and no-one comes. So many professional shows are closing – and they have finances behind them. We’re just a small group trying our best. I really, really do hope we make it through.”

Those words are echoed throughout the land. Some had entered the techno age and streamed productions while others have managed to keep together with zoom chats and even zoom rehearsals of productions they hope will take place in 2021.

Louth’s Riverhead Theatre is one of the more iconic am-dram venues in Lincolnshire and is maintained and run by Louth Playgoers Society Ltd a long-established group whose productions run in to the 100s.

With more than 100 volunteers the group has gone from strength to strength over the decades and is a bastion of local entertainment staging a varied programme in modern facilities.

Determined to do its best to keep entertainment available to the local community, the committee has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the government’s regulations are adhered to and that social distancing is paramount. Dates of productions have been juggled and likewise its many social events and youth groups have been carefully guided through the Covid minefield.

Those are just two of the groups doing their best but they represent so many more and here at Encore! we hope that there are happier times ahead.

Looking around the country, there are signs of recovery as groups start to prepare for future presentations. Yes, the shows will go on!

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