AN OPEN air theatre will be the first entertainment venue in Brighton and Hove to reopen after lockdown forced the city to shut down in March.

Brighton Open Air Theatre (BOAT) in Dyke Road, Hove will welcome back audiences from July 25.

A spokesman for the venue said: “Following the announcement by the Government concerning outdoor performances, we are delighted to finally be able to open our gates for the summer season.

The Argus:

“The first production is BOAT Unlocked - a celebration of local artists and companies each presenting a short performance as part of a cabaret-style variety show.

"This runs at 2pm and 6pm on Saturday, July 25, with a full line-up to be announced shortly.”

There will be no booking for the event, which will instead work on a donation-only basis.

The Argus:

The theatre has also released a full programme of events for August and September, including the likes of Wizard of Oz and Sherlock Holmes.

But while theatre bosses are looking forward to providing “some long-overdue cultural exposure”, they also told people that measures had been taken to protect visitors.

The spokesman said: “BOAT would like to assure everyone that the safety of our audience, staff, volunteers and performers is paramount, and we have introduced a number of precautionary measures to help keep everyone safe. 

The Argus:

“These include a reduced capacity to maintain social-distancing, a one-way system to the toilets, hand sanitiser available throughout the premises, and PPE for all staff and volunteers. 

“All audience members will be seated at least one metre from each other, and there will be a socially-distanced queuing system for entry and the bar.”

The theatre finds itself in a unique position, with indoor theatres and music venues still unable to open under the latest government guidance surrounding the coronavirus lockdown.

The Argus:

Outdoor performances with social distancing can officially resume from July 11, culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced on Wednesday.

The Government said small pilots of performances indoors with socially distanced audiences will soon take place “to inform future plans” but there is no cemented date for the reopening of indoor theatres.

The BOAT spokesman said:  “While our thoughts are with our colleagues at indoor theatres who are still awaiting clarity on their future, we hope that open-air performance can be the first stepping stone for the theatre sector to get back on track.”

He added: “It’s likely that we’ll be one of the only venues open in Brighton this summer, so please bring the kids, a picnic, and enjoy a performance as the sun sets over the park. Finally the summer can begin.”