CORONAVIRUS: Independent theatre company Tread the Boards’ future under threat

John-Robert Partridge as Henry V and Ashleigh Dickinson as Lord Scroop. Photo: Andrew Maguire

One local theatre company that has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus is Tread the Boards, whose base is the Attic Theatre, Cox’s Yard, Stratford.

For the past 11 years the company has been run by partners John-Robert Partridge, artistic director, and Catherine Prout, executive producer. The professional company has built up a reputation of putting on innovative quality productions on a shoestring, while ensuring actors are paid.

John-Robert Partridge and Catherine Prout of Tread the Boards with their daughter Alexandra.
Photo: Mark Williamson B8/2/19/5169

It was due to kick off its 2020 season with productions of Macbeth and Twelfth Night in late March, but its closure means it will struggle to pay its rent and may be forced to shut permanently.

John tells Herald arts: “Our rent is £1,500 a month so that’s £3,000 to cover us until May. We of course hope we will be okay but we are facing a very real possibility that our tenancy will be brought to an end after 11 years due to the outbreak.”

John says he is frustrated with the way the government has handled the closure of the theatres, he says: “I wish Boris Johnson had been more decisive. The wording of the his statement on Monday [17th March] was unclear and seems to mean insurance companies don’t have to pay. So a little hope we had of gaining money back has gone.”

Tread the Boards has set up a ‘Go Fund Me’ page on the fundraising platform; and also asked those patrons who have already bought tickets for any of the shows if they can consider donating the cost rather than asking for a refund.

Find out more via the company’s Facebook page (