The arts, and theatre in particular, have been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the reality of living with social distancing measures in place. Around the world, theatres and cinemas have been forced to close, some temporarily as others look to shutter permanently.
However, one theatre in England has been handed a lifeline by George and Amal Clooney.
The British-Lebanese human rights lawyer and her Hollywood actor husband have made a sizeable donation to The Mill at Sonning Theatre, located close to their Berkshire home. The theatre, which they are said to frequent, credited the couple with "ensuring the venue’s survival" on its Facebook page, as it announced it was reopening.
The exact amount that the couple donated has not been disclosed.
"Since July, when the theatre celebrated its 38th birthday, The Mill has only been able to operate its adjoining restaurant with reduced seating, but this together with fundraising and donations from Mill Angel supporters and Hollywood star George Clooney and his wife Amal, who are near neighbours and regular attenders, have been a lifeline to ensure the venue’s survival," the Wednesday, October 7, post read.
The theatre is to reopen on Friday, October 30 with a capacity of 70 patrons. As it announced its reopening, it also detailed its schedule for its upcoming season, which includes comedy, magic, cabarets and plays.
"The Mill will reopen with a much reduced capacity of 70 customers for dinner and show due to social distancing, but the venue has come up with an ingenious way to hide the empty seats that have to be left between bookings," the statement reads. "Our in-house master carpenter has built small tables that will slot over the empty seats. These can move depending on the size of each group and will be dressed with small lights, so the auditorium will look more like an intimate cabaret space than a traditional theatre."
The Clooneys are a notably philanthropic couple. In August, they donated $100,000 to three charities in support of those affected by the devastating port blast in Beirut.
"We're both deeply concerned for the people of Beirut and the devastation they've faced in the last few days," the couple said in a statement to People.
"Three charitable organisations we've found are providing essential relief on the ground: the Lebanese Red Cross, Impact Lebanon, and Baytna Baytak."