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Life can be a cabaret again, as theatres prepare to reopen

Premier Daniel Andrews announced that from June 22, indoor cinemas, concert venues, theatres and stadiums can reopen with up to 50 seated patrons per space.

Miao, who owns Prahran small theatre The MC Showroom, said it was “brilliant news” and it would be “a big relief” for artists to perform again.

”It’s a green light for people in the industry to start to make some plans.”

Artists were “hanging out to get back to work, it’s their lifeline”, she said. Audiences would “come and feel the sense of normalcy again”.

Until now, Miao has not been able to schedule or promote shows and feared the lockdown would stretch beyond September.

Her venue can fit 50 people while observing social distancing and using hand sanitiser.

She will try running dinner theatre nights with audiences sitting at tables of two. They will order takeaway food and in turn support local restaurants.

Miao said it would be “a kick-start to get things going again”.

She has cancelled at least 200 acts due to the pandemic restrictions; the last act before a crowd was on March 8 – the Genesis rock tribute act Entangled.

“Afterwards we were meant to launch into the comedy festival and it all went down from there.”

The MC Showroom in Prahran is ready to reopen, with dinner theatre on the menu.

The MC Showroom in Prahran is ready to reopen, with dinner theatre on the menu.Credit:Penny Stephens

The venue’s landlord granted a 50 per cent discount on rent and 50 per cent deferral, but that is being reviewed “month by month”. Debts were building up and bills still had to be paid.

Khan says when she returns to the stage, there will be “so much new material” after the outbreak.

Nurses are renowned for their dark humour. She has noticed how people have taken to washing their hands – except for one surgeon she knows who is surprisingly blasé about it.

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She can riff about the absurdity of nurses practising social distancing while having to shower and toilet patients, and how personal protective clothing can be sweaty and awkward to wear.

Khan said staging a dinner theatre was “a really good idea” as long as audience members were kept at a distance from one another and perhaps asked on entry if they had COVID-19 symptoms.

She said small theatres were vital for emerging artists in particular and theatres’ return would be “so important for our mental health and for connection. Without touching, of course.”

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