THE oldest working theatre in its original form in England has been forced to temporarily close its doors due to Coronavirus.

The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, has made the difficult decision to cancel performances and suspend guided tours.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we have taken this decision,” said the theatre’s chief executive, Clare Allen.

“However, we feel it is the right thing to do in order to protect our audiences, performers, visitors, volunteers and staff, as well as to ensure the safety of the community at large.”

It is not known how long the theatre will have to remain closed but the situation will be reviewed carefully over the coming weeks.

Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre classes are still going ahead as they are linked to school openings and closures, although this is obviously subject to change, and in which case students will be notified immediately.

It is hoped that many of the cancelled performances will be rescheduled and as soon as the arrangements for individual shows are known, the Theatre will be contacting ticket-holders with options for a ticket transfer, credit note or refund. This process may take some time but it has already started and will be completed as quickly as possible.

“We are sure that many people will be disappointed by the cancellations but hope that they understand our reasons for the closure. So far, we have been extremely touched by people’s kind response and amazing generosity. Many have chosen to accept a credit note or donate the cost of their ticket to the Theatre, as they realise that these measures will undoubtedly have a devastating effect on our financial well-being,” said Clare Allen.

The Georgian Theatre Royal is a charity and receives no central Government or Arts Council funding and it therefore relies heavily on income from ticket sales, tours and donations. As the oldest working theatre in the country in its original form, the theatre not only contributes greatly to the rich cultural life of the community but also has an important historical significance on the national stage.

“The theatre has been here since 1788 and it would be desperately sad if we were to lose this much-loved treasure now. We would be incredibly grateful for people’s support at this critical time so that, when this is all over, we can welcome back audiences and celebrate together as a community,” said Ms Allen.

Anyone can donate to the ‘A Living Theatre Campaign’, which was launched last year by Sir Ian McKellen to help the 230-year-old institution reach financial sustainability. The need for this vital fundraising is now more essential than ever. Visit or by calling 01748 823710.