The boss of Shakespeare’s Globe hopes the theatre’s reopening can provide “cultural nourishment”.
The London venue welcomed back patrons on Wednesday after being closed for 429 days due to the pandemic.
It reopened for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a socially distanced audience reduced to 470 from the usual 1600.
Capacity will gradually increase as health guidelines evolve.
The Globe’s chief executive, Neil Constable, told of his delight at fans being invited back inside.
“I think we are going to give an opportunity for people to come together safely. People haven’t been, unless they’ve been to some of the pilot events, in large-scale gatherings,” he told the PA news agency.
“And there is something about being with people when you’ve chosen to do something. And then the work they will see on stage, or the music they’ll hear from a concert platform, I think will really help heal everyone because there hasn’t been this cultural nourishment and just the opportunity to entertain and laugh together.”
Mr Constable, who has been in the post since 2010, also stressed the Covid-safe nature of the Globe, which is situated on the south bank of the Thames.
He said: “There haven’t been, as far as I believe, reports of any infections arising from people attending a theatre performance and of course with the Globe being outdoors people do feel safe and you forget about it and you start really enjoying the work you’re seeing on stage.”
The Globe, like other arts venues, faced financial meltdown during the pandemic, when doors were closed and revenue streams abruptly cut off.
It survived thanks in part to the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, as well as donors.
Mr Constable revealed he almost recommended mothballing the venue due to the pandemic’s catastrophic impact, which cut 95% of the Globe’s income.
He told PA: “If we hadn’t received that government support and the support from Garfield Weston and many donors we would have been in the difficult position of, if no additional support came in by the end of last year, I would be recommending to the trustees that we mothball the organisation and close down and reopen when we were able to.”
For information on forthcoming productions, visit www.shakespearesglobe.com