Photographer goes inside closed West End theatres to see the effects of lockdown for charity series

Nina Dunn has captured four West End venues for her “Dark Theatres Project”

The Savoy Theatre
© Nina Dunn

Theatre creative Nina Dunn, who has provided video design for some of the biggest shows on stage, has created a new series of photographs taken inside locked down theatres.

Entitled The Dark Theatres Project, the series will raise money for charity, with anyone donating to the scheme receiving a print of one of her photos.

Duke of York's Theatre
© Nina Dunn

Dunn told WhatsOnStage: "This is a moment in history – there have been no enforced closures for a long time. Theatres have managed to remain open during the First World War and during the Second World War to an extent.

"It's quite compelling to get the message out about how theatres need people. They need maintenance. And to remind people that they're still there. It feels as though theatre is being left behind – it's further down on the list of concerns than I think it should be. "

"I'd recently done a project about the 1918 Spanish Flu, and was aware that that was a moment theatres had to close. So I wanted to explore the parallels. I asked some producers to see if I could make a trip into London from Brighton and visit some theatres."

The curtain at the Duke of York's Theatre
© Nina Dunn

Helped by Ambassador Theatre Group, Dunn was able to visit four West End venues – the Duke of York's, Ambassadors Theatre, the Savoy Theatre and the Playhouse Theatre.

A script at the Playhouse Theatre
© Nina Dunn

Dunn continued: "The overriding feeling was that the spaces were waiting. Quite patiently waiting. I didn't expect to see that. These are old buildings near the Thames, in the dark, that need constant upkeep. Most of all they need people."

9 to 5 snack box
© Nina Dunn

"All the signs took on a new meaning for me. I saw a Tupperware box used for cast member snacks – it said "if you indulge, please invest" and I thought "Yes please!". All the props were laid out and ready to go for that evening's performance. A tea tray in the Duke of York's looked as though all it needed was to be picked up. I was struck by the beauty of these places.

"These are personal spaces. With dressing rooms and work spaces, for a lot of people they are second homes."

The Duke of York's Theatre
© Nina Dunn

Dunn's photos will also be collated into a book, with all profits going to four charities – BackUp, The Theatrical Guild, The Theatres Trust, Acting for Others – you can find out more on her site here.

A changing room at 9 to 5
© Nina Dunn