Actress Liz Carr has suggested theaters consider hosting special shows for viewers who still want to wear face masks or social perms.
The Silent Witness star won Olivier’s Best Supporting Actor Award for his role in Normal Heart on Sunday.
With live audiences largely shedding masks, Carr suggested venues could offer “safer for Covid” shows.
“Theater must also remain accessible to those of us with health conditions,” he told BBC News.
Carr, who has been using a wheelchair since he was seven, is one of the UK’s highest-rated disabled actors.
Last year he starred at the National Theater in The Normal Heart, a play about the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York.
Speaking backstage at the Royal Albert Hall after the win, Carr explained that he felt more comfortable performing in a play than as a member of the public.
“If I had a five-minute speech, I would talk about not having been to the theater in the last two years. It’s a scary night for me,” she said.
“Now you could say ‘yes,’ but you played to 1,200 people every night, Liz.
“Yes, but I was on stage with everyone every day, with everyone in the test case, so I felt safer than occasionally being a spectator in an audience surrounded by people I don’t know.”
Carr’s victory comes after being legally required to wear an English-made face-covering earlier this year as Covid restrictions were eased thanks to the successful launch of the vaccine.
As a result, a large number of theater, cinema, and concert masks have been abandoned in recent months, as many people are full, uncomfortable, and probably no longer needed.
However, Carr suggested that while most live shows can be mask-free, theaters should try to book shows specifically for the most vulnerable who still have concerns about Covid safety.
“I’m not sure about the [issue] of everyone wearing face masks, I think it should, should, indoors because of the airborne Covid-19,” she said.
“But I think theaters could think about safer shows. I think they should have more socially distanced face mask shows. Just as you could have a British Sign Language premiere, I think you should have Covid-safe shows. . ”
“I didn’t feel safe”
Many arts and entertainment venues currently offer accessible exhibitions alongside their main programming, such as cinemas showing productions of films with subtitles for the deaf.
But most places don’t segregate the public who don’t want to wear face masks.
Carr recalls, “Some of my friends who weren’t willing to come to the show came to try on the dress because they didn’t feel confident enough to come.
“So I think there should be shows with less required skills and masks. Every show does this to ensure the theater stays accessible, even for those of us with health conditions.”
In recent months, several high-profile West End stars have inspired live audiences to wear face masks.
Frozen star Stephanie McKeon tweeted in October: “Praying for the general London public: please put on your masks in the theatre. We are working so hard to make sure everyone is safe and our shows can go ahead.
“We would be so grateful if you could help us and create your own as well. Thanks.”