Peterborough theatre group faces uncertainty over spring festival following Key Theatre closure

Can the show go on for Mask Theatre? With the Key Theatre closing, the group is facing uncertainty over its spring festival.

Saturday, 8th January 2022, 11:10 am
Performance of CUBED 'Sitting here'. Credit to Thomas Byron Photography
Performance of CUBED 'Sitting here'. Credit to Thomas Byron Photography

Peterborough Mask Theatre has been producing theatre in the city for almost 75 years. Renowned for its outdoor Shakespeare shows in the summer, the group is facing the possibility the show won’t go on. 
The group performs three shows a year, during the spring and autumn - often at the Key Theatre. Mask’s short play festival CUBED was disrupted due to lockdown in 2020, after only three performance and was then reprogrammed for 2022, but the sellout shows may have to be cancelled unless the group can find another venue. 
Producer Becky Owen-Fisher said: “We had been booked in at the Key Studio in March. We have paid for the rights to all the plays, begun rehearsals and started communicating with ticket holders who have been hanging onto their tickets since March 2020.

“Just like every other community theatre company in the city, we were devastated to hear that the Key would be closing. We’re incredibly hopeful that a private investor can be found to take over management but we fear it won’t be in time to save CUBED festival.

“We’re determined to go ahead with CUBED this spring; we’ve been waiting two years to bring these brilliant, challenging, exciting plays to life. We don’t want to let down our talented members, or our dedicated audiences who have waited so long to see the plays.”

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CUBED included 18 community performers and a 20-strong team of backstage and production crew. 
Approximately 600 audience members with tickets have been left anxiously waiting for news on whether it can go ahead this spring.

Becky is hoping that a venue can be found and help save the eagerly-anticipated festival. 
She said: “We have a multitude of skills in Peterborough Mask Theatre and we can transform just about any space into a theatre. We’re ideally looking for somewhere in Peterborough City Centre with good access. As long as there’s room to seat up to 70 audience members with stage space, we can make it work!

“We’ve contacted the council to ask about empty shop units and the John Clare theatre and we’re awaiting a reply.”

The group face not only a financial loss but the devestation of waiting for two years to re-perform only to have the opportunity taken away from them. 
She said: “If we’re not able to go ahead with CUBED there will be financial losses but more importantly, our six casts have been waiting two years to bring these plays to life, and 600 audience members are waiting to see them. 
“Community theatre is a vital part of Peterborough’s cultural scene, and for those involved it is an escape. During lockdown Mask kept up a vibrant online presence for our members. We even made a feature length film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which was shot on location at Nene Park and premiered at the Key Theatre in summer 2021. In autumn 2021 we returned to the stage at The Undercroft with Frankenstein and for the sake of our members’ mental health we do not want to go backwards at this stage. CUBED must happen, we just need a space to perform it in.”