It has been nearly five months since we shut our doors to the public, and it is with great sadness that we have made the decision to postpone this year’s pantomime, RED RIDING HOOD, until 2021.
We know many of you were looking forward to seeing another classic fairy tale re-imagined Stratford East style and we are gutted that we’re unable share this work with you this year.
In light of the continuing pandemic and rules around social distancing – along with the cost of producing a show the size of panto – we cannot afford to take any risks that might jeopardise the future of our theatre, the people we work with or our community. As with many of our friends, including the Lyric Hammersmith, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Hackney Empire, this decision has not been made lightly.
Any COVID-related illness within the team and subsequent isolation could put the theatre in real financial difficulty and with no insurance available for theatres at this time, we are not willing to risk the future of Stratford East. Furthermore, in order to stick to social distancing rules, we would only be able to fill 25% of our auditorium, which would not only put us into further financial jeopardy, but would fail to give a heart-warming traditional panto experience for audiences and cast members.
We know that this will come as a disappointment for many as there’s nothing quite like a Stratford East panto, but fear not, the show will go on and our red-cloaked heroine will return in 2021. We’re also planning some smaller-scale events over the next few months, so please keep an eye out for more information).
All ticket holders for RED RIDING HOOD will be contacted by our Box Office team within the next 10 working days, so please bear with us.
Artistic Director Nadia Fall said:
"Panto has been part of the Stratford East Christmas since 1884 and so it’s with a heavy heart that we have to postpone Red Riding Hood. So many people tell us that the Stratford East panto is the first thing they saw as a child, and so many families come every year as their Christmas tradition, and each year over 11,000 school children come to our panto too. It’s also our biggest show; employing a wide range of freelancers, who may now have no work over the Christmas period. Panto means so much to our audiences, the artists and freelancers that put it together and to us as a building. Despite the disappointment for this year, we are determined that we will have a brilliant panto in the making by Karl Miller and Robert Hyman next year and we can't wait to share this with our audiences in 2021."
We hope to welcome you back as soon as we can.
Nadia Fall (Artistic Director) and Eleanor Lang (Executive Director)
Information for ticket holders and FAQs
Should I ring the box office?
No. At the moment, due to Covid-19, we have a smaller Box Office team. We’ll be getting in touch with everyone via e-mail (or if you don’t have e-mail then by phone). If you’ve not heard from us by Mon 24 August then please drop us an e-mail to email@example.com
I have tickets, what are my options?
All ticket holders will be contacted by email. When we get in touch, you’ll be given the following options:
- Transferring your current tickets to a performance of RED RIDING HOOD in 2021/22. You will subsequently be sent a list of performances to choose from.
- Donating the full or partial value of your tickets to support the theatre and secure its future.
- A full refund
Why has the pantomime been cancelled?
Our extended closure has made this year financially tough, and whilst we believe we can survive, we can’t afford to take any risks that might jeopardise our theatre, the work we do with and for our communities, and pantomimes in the years to come. Panto is a large-scale show and our seating capacity (and therefore income) is reduced to 25% with social distancing. The losses we would make could put the theatre in real financial jeopardy. We have had no indication from the government that it will end before Christmas. Additionally, any symptoms or illness in the company and the subsequent 14 days of isolation for the team leading to cancelled shows. With no insurance available for theatres right now, we cannot risk our future. Under current guidelines we would also have to reduce audience participation, singing and interaction – all the things that make panto so brilliant, and we don’t believe a socially-distanced pantomime is a good experience for audiences.
Will there be anything in the pantomime’s place?
We are currently looking at a few low-risk options, but at this time we can’t confirm anything.
If I’ve reserved my tickets what happens?
Our Box Office team will get in touch to discuss your booking and options.
I’ve not bought tickets yet, when can I buy them for next year’s show?
Tickets for 2021/22 production of RED RIDING HOOD are now on sale and can be purchased here.
Coronavirus has been around for a few months, why has this decision been made now?
We love panto. Our audience love panto. The pandemic has been particularly challenging for long, medium and even short-term planning. We have held out hope for as long as possible that we might be able to make panto work this Christmas. However, August is the time when we start spending money on making panto, and we needed to know by the start of August that we would be able to open without social distancing, or that there was insurance to cover cancellations. We understand that the government is having to react to the spread of COVID-19, but without these reassurances we have come to the disappointing conclusion that we cannot risk going ahead. As time has progressed and the situation unfolded we started to do detailed risk assessments and financial modelling to examine the viability of the pantomime. That modelling takes time, and with each government announcement has changed. It’s only very recently we’ve reached the sad, and gutting conclusion that the risk of going ahead with the pantomime is too great. We want panto back but not at the cost of losing the organisation.