On Tuesday, 8 June, Lara Foot, the chief executive officer and artistic director of The Baxter at the University of Cape Town (UCT), wrote to the theatre’s patrons with an important announcement about Life & Times of Michael K, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and information on how members of the public can continue to support The Baxter during the national lockdown.
“It is with a heavy heart that I write to tell you that our plans to deliver Life & Times of Michael K and Kiss of the Spider Woman, have been thwarted,” wrote Foot.
She explained that the theatre’s problems with Life & Times of Michael K began when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced further restrictions on audience numbers at adjusted lockdown Level 2. This was a “heavy loss” for The Baxter as they had already sold more than 200 tickets per show.
“Suddenly, overnight, our capacity was restricted from 250 seats to 100 seats in our main theatre, which has a capacity of 680,” wrote Foot.
“I can say without any doubt that both shows are of the highest standard and we have given our all to make exceptional theatre.”
The Baxter tried everything to save the situation by adding a few extra shows and even lobbying for permission to use 180 seats located on the balconies, as separate spaces. However, the Department of Health informed the theatre that this would be unlawful.
“We then had to write letters to our loyal patrons and tell them that their tickets would no longer be valid and that we could only allow the first 100 seats booked for each performance. This was a very unpleasant thing to do, as we value and need [their] support,” continued Foot.
Finally, on Friday, 4 June, when the show was ready and all ‘technicals’ were complete, the Baxter found out that one of their company members had tested positive for COVID-19. That Sunday, another company member tested positive.
This left the theatre with no choice but to close for several days, and now, to cancel the entire run for both Life & Times of Michael K and Kiss of a Spider Woman.
“Unfortunately, there had been contact between crew members,” explained Foot.
‘A crippling effect’
Foot wrote that while she has always remained positive about The Baxter, she had to concede that “these times of COVID have had a crippling effect”. She acknowledged suggestions that the theatre stream performances but, she explained, this is not financially viable and, Foot added, “it is just not theatre”.
Thus, The Baxter has taken the decision to bring both shows back at the end of January 2022, in the hope that by then they will be able to play to at least 50% capacity.
Those who have already purchased tickets can ‘park’ them for the return season and will also have preferential booking. Furthermore, ticketholders will not have to do anything on their end to ‘park’ their tickets; The Baxter team will automatically move it, and let the ticketholder know when new dates have been confirmed.
“I can say without any doubt that both shows are of the highest standard and we have given our all to make exceptional theatre,” wrote Foot.
She concluded: “I am so deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused by this insurmountable situation.”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.