Two Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) theatres will remain closed next year as a result of the pandemic.
The RSC said it will focus its efforts on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, its largest theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, over the coming year.
As well as keeping the Swan Theatre and The Other Place closed in 2021, the RSC is beginning formal consultation with its workforce “as a result of the ongoing impact of Covid-19”.
Its artistic director Gregory Doran said: “We want to welcome our audiences back, to re-open again and to help our regional and wider economy rebuild itself, bringing people back into our towns and cities.
“Our financial position and uncertainty around future restrictions means that our immediate focus will be on… the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.”
He added: “We continue to face the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and today was a difficult day as we began formal consultation about potential redundancies with our fantastic staff.
“We will continue to respond creatively to the ongoing crisis and look forward to the moment when we can reopen our doors with full-scale productions to celebrate all that is brilliant about live theatre.”
Small-scale, socially distanced performances will take place in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre while also being streamed into homes.
The live performances, in December and January, will see the return of socially distanced, reduced-capacity audiences to the theatre for the first time since March.
The company also said it plans to reopen its West End hit Matilda The Musical as soon as it is financially viable.
It consultation, with trade unions and staff representatives, covers proposals from redundancies to changes of employment conditions, it said.
Some 158 people are currently in roles at risk but through redeployment and voluntary redundancy that could fall to below 90.
Catherine Mallyon, executive director, said: “These are incredibly difficult times for everyone, and for the theatre community they are especially tough.
“Our live performance sector is experiencing one of the highest levels of loss of work anywhere: the personal impact of this is often devastating.”
And she added: “The loss of skilled and talented people permanently from our sector is a very real worry for the future and the impact on the nation’s economy immense.”
It is hoped the RSC will have a full-scale re-opening of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in spring next year, with productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy Of Errors, “when it is hoped that social distancing restrictions will be eased”.
The continued closure of the Swan Theatre means that The Wars Of The Roses Parts 1 & 2, which had already been rescheduled from this autumn until autumn 2021, will now be delayed.
Its education, digital and streaming activity will continue throughout the autumn and winter to allow people to experience the RSC in their homes and schools.