Brexit Prompts National Theatre To Reconsider Europe Tour Plans

The National Theater said uncertainty about obtaining visas and work permits in mainland Europe has led it to shelve plans to tour there.

“At the moment we cannot confirm any travel obligations in Europe due to Brexit legislation,” the organization said.

Many Obstacles To Overcome

UK actors, artists and staff are unable to work freely across the continent after leaving the EU.

On Tuesday the government said it hoped to open talks with individual EU countries to help British artists travel.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage acknowledged that there were “many obstacles to overcome” after arts figures told a committee of MPs that Brexit had created an “absolute crisis”.

One of those figures, freelance lighting designer Paule Constable, said she had been told that the producers of War Horse would no longer tour the show in Europe.

The National Theatre later clarified that it was in fact another of its acclaimed plays that had been affected.

“We had planned to take our production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, not War Horse, to venues in Europe as part of the now postponed 2020-21 tour,” the theatre’s spokeswoman told BBC News.

Ongoing Negotiations

She continued: “The potential additional costs for visas and current lack of clarity around social security contributions as a result of the [Brexit] deal means regrettably it is currently not financially viable.

“We’re awaiting further details of ongoing negotiations in this area and hope that in future we will be able to return to mainland Europe.

“However, due to the amount of time needed to plan a tour, we are not able to commit to European touring until we have clarity around these points.”

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel, opened at National in 2012. It won seven Olivier Awards and moved on to the West End before moving to Broadway and touring the world.

The National’s concerns echoed those voiced before the House of Commons culture select committee on Tuesday and by more than 100 members of the performers’ Equity union in an open letter to the government.

The Concerns

Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Julie Walters were among those who signed the letter, urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to negotiate new terms with the EU that would allow “creative practitioners” like themselves “to travel to the EU visa-free for work”.

Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, told MPs that some British artists had canceled their plans for a summer concert, while others had been expelled from European orchestras.

“I have been inundated with personal testimony from musicians as to the work that they have lost or are going to lose now in Europe as a result of the new visa and work permit arrangements,” she said.

“Some of them are really quite heart-rending, with musicians saying they are thinking of giving up being a musician altogether.”

The constable, who represented the Freelancers Make Theater Work campaign, told the committee that the situation was tense.

Speaking to BBC Two Newsnight on Tuesday, This Life and Doctors star Cyril Nri said he and other actors were “left behind” and “lost a lot”.

“The hurdles in our way at this moment in time are huge,” he said. “We are going to lose a cultural exchange and the ability to bring in huge amounts of revenue to this country and to develop the actors of the future.”

Nri claimed that actors with European passports were now being cast ahead of those without, suggesting UK passports had become “a mill around our necks”.

Different EU countries have different arrangements for working musicians and other artists. Spain, for example, requires more visas, and France does not.

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