Many theatres have already initiated moments of respect and reflection at performances since the news was announced late on Saturday. Today, the first official day back to work following the Easter holiday weekend, the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), which represents all West End theatres and producers, and its sister organisation for regional venues, the Theatrical Management Association, have issued guidelines to its members.
The guidelines recommend that theatres ask their audiences to observe a minute's silence, either before or after a performance, or play the national anthem. Participating theatres will continue to do up to and including next Tuesday, 9 April 2002, when the Queen Mother's funeral will be held at Westminster Abbey in London, followed by a procession to her burial place at Windsor.
At the Royal National Theatre, an announcement is being made before each performance in all three auditoria, inviting audiences to "stand and remember the life" of the royal matriarch who laid the foundation stone for the modern South Bank complex in 1951. The announcement is followed by the national anthem. On Tuesday, the day of the funeral, the NT management are planning to extend this tribute with a minute's silence.
No theatre performances will be postponed or cancelled. This is, says a SOLT spokeswoman, in keeping with the wishes of both the Royal Family and the Government. There has, however, been some speculation that the Government may declare next Tuesday a national holiday in honour of the Queen Mother. In any case, with thousands expected to come to London to witness the funeral and process, there may be travel implications for Tuesday performances.
Last night, Jonathan Pryce, currently starring in My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, joined in the high-profile campaign to find missing teenager Amanda "Milly" Dowler. Pryce, who has a daughter nearly the same age as 13-year-old Dowler, urged the teenager or anyone with news of her to come forward. Dowler disappeared 11 days ago and, despite intense media coverage, the police have yet to find any trace of her.
Pryce added that, similar to the minute's silence observed each night for the Queen Mother, the cast and company of the musical would stage "more than a minute's rejoicing" at news that Dowler had been found safe and sound. The teenager had been due to attend the West End production last night. Pryce said: "If she is listening now I'd be overjoyed. I hope that she can come to the show and she would be welcome any time."
- by Terri Paddock
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