The clearest sign of the times is the layer of leaves and dust that has blown up against – and worked its way under – the door from the laneway that leads backstage. Normally cleared by foot traffic, the debris of disuse has gathered in inverse proportion to the number of performances staged and tickets sold.
It is – or would be in a normal year – festival season. Rapid turnover and overlapping bump-in and bump-out as avant garde cabaret gives way to gender swapped ironic showtune retrospectives that in turn gives way to late night interpretations of Bananas in Pyjamas.
This year the downstairs theatre space is given over to storage; the upstairs studio space is given over to pigeons and rats. The whole is kept ticking over by the generosity of donors and sparse handouts from the government. Thin years and off seasons would normally be bolstered by renting to community groups, college bands, self help seminars and the occasional launch, reading or screening of a borderline vanity project. In this lockdown climate all those are no-go, until social distancing is relaxed and things start to open up again.