Liz Carr says theatres should bring back mask-only performances to improve accessibility
Liz Carr has called on theatres to ask audiences to wear face masks to allow people with medical conditions to visit.
The actor and comedian, who has a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, made her stage debut last year for her role in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart at the National Theatre.
It is the first time her character of Dr Emma Brookner – based on real-life doctor Linda Laubenstein who used a wheelchair – has ever been played by an actor who uses a wheelchair.
Carr was named Best Actress in a Supporting Role during Sunday (10 April) night’s Olivier Awards, but had to wait in the wings as the nominations were read out. She then used her speech to call for “accessible ceremonies” and encourage directors to work with disabled actors.
Speaking to BBC News, Carr said that, had she had longer on stage, she would have mentioned how theatre can be more accessible for audience members with health conditions.
“I haven’t been to the theatre in over two years,” she said. “This is a frightening night for me.
“Now, you could say, ‘Yeah but you did a play, Liz, in front of 1,200 people every night’. Yes, but I was on stage with everybody who was testing, everybody in the cast tested every day, so I felt safer than being a random member of the public in an audience around people I didn’t know.”
Carr added that she thought theatres should require audiences to wear face masks during certain performances to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“I think theatres could think about having safer performances,” she said.
“I think they should have face mask performances that are more socially distanced. In the same way you might have a British Sign Language performance, I think you should have Covid-safer performances.”
Carr said she believed some performances could have lowered capacities and mandatory face masks for audience members: “Every show should be doing that to make sure theatre remains accessible even to those of us who have health conditions.”
Since Covid-19 restrictions eased, audiences are no longer required to wear masks in the theatre.