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A Letter From Adam Penford

Adam Penford is a choreographer and director. He's been Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse since 2017. Read Adam's Letter of Solidarity here!

Dear People of Nottingham,

I’m writing 15 weeks after the Government announced the UK was locking down. It’s been a period of intensity as we’ve adapted to keeping 2 metres apart on the pavement, to queuing outside supermarkets, to applauding on Thursday evenings (some man near me dragged a massive gong on to the pavement each week) and watched the appalling death toll rise on the news, horrified at first, though now it’s lost its shock value.

I live near the city centre and have been into town several times a week, for shopping or walking. It was odd seeing it so deserted for so long. Like every day had become a Sunday evening in summer, when the students are gone and the shops are shut. Throughout, a handful of people would be sat around the edge of the Market Square, a couple of pairs, but mostly alone. I always wondered who they were; they seemed forgotten, as if news of the pandemic had passed them by, but perhaps I’m projecting that romanticised post-apocalyptic vibe on to them, and they were simply Uber Eats cyclists waiting for a notification, or mates breaking the lockdown rules. They could have been homeless, their pattern of life disrupted as the rest of the world withdrew into the homes that they don’t have.

Now, town is opening back up. The streets are filling again. With each day, a new set of shops are putting distancing stickers on the pavement, hefting shelves around to create more walkways and positioning masked staff on the door to count us in. On Clumber Street, people are still doing a dance to avoid coming into breathing distance of each other, but even that seems to be less invested, more habit than compulsion.

It’s going to take such a long time for society to get back to normal. And when that does happen, things will have changed forever; some shops will never reopen their doors, more people will work from home as they realise their daily commute had never been necessary; and tens of thousands will be absent, who died in hospital, comforted by nurses but not family, buried alone, like my lovely father-in-law.

It will make a mark on us, which will fade with time, but the scar will never completely disappear.

Sending solidarity,
A

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