Venues, producers scramble to manage 8pm Covid curfew on live shows

Musicals, plays and gigs rescheduled or cancelled entirely in light of Covid surge

Venues and producers across Ireland have scrambled to manage the 8pm curfew on live entertainment, announced on Friday.

Live performances were included in the measures for bars and restaurants, despite different settings. Theatres, music venues and arts centres have long required masks indoors throughout performances, while bars have been closed and intervals have been dropped.

After the 50 per cent capacity restriction was introduced earlier in December, some venues and companies halved audiences by presenting two shows a night, changing dates or operating last-booked, first-cancelled refunds.

Hospital Report

To comply with latest restrictions, the Abbey Theatre has brought performance times forward. For Faith Healer, 2pm matinees move to noon, and 7.30pm shows to 5pm. The Long Christmas Dinner’s 6.30pm shows remain, but 8.30pm pulls back to 4.30pm, while Every Brilliant Thing later in January has shows at 6pm not 8pm. Executive director Mark O’Brien tweeted: “This fire will not go out ... Deflation is temporary. Onwards.”


Over at the Gaiety Theatre, its Little Mermaid panto matinees move to midday and evening shows to 5pm. Also at the Gaiety, the world premiere of Walking with Ghosts, adapted from Gabriel Byrne’s memoir rescheduled end of January shows to finish by 8pm, and “tickets are flying out the door” the producers say.

‘An optimal time’

Some have cancelled, including Rough Magic’s evening performances of All The Angels, which added an extra matinee on Tuesday, December 21st.

ANU Productions has postponed Staging the Treaty at the National Concert Hall in December and January, as “our duty of care to everyone working with us is too great at this acute moment in the pandemic to proceed with the show of this scale”.

It will reschedule “when there is an optimal time”.

Also at NCH, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra’s January concerts have an earlier 6pm start, but the RTÉ Concert Orchestra has had to cancel its New Year’s Eve Gala.

The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is revising the entire season of Lion King, due to start on December 23rd for six-weeks. A spokesperson said “we really want the shows to go ahead”.

Some live music is also shifting to earlier. TradFest, with concerts at multiple venues across Dublin, January 26th-30th, has rescheduled each concert to finish at 8pm, using hospital-grade air disinfection systems in venues.

Aiken Promotions is working with individual artists on a show-by show basis for gigs at Vicar Street, and has announced earlier start times of 6pm for Damian Dempsey this week, and Christy Moore in January.

MCD Productions too is rescheduling shows, with tickets still valid, while “a small number will be cancelled with full refunds”.

At the long-established Whelan’s music venue on Wexford Street, some gigs (comedian David O’Doherty, Thee UFO) are cancelled, others rescheduled (The Riptide Movement) and some moved to 6pm (Mark Geary on December 22nd).

After the 8pm curfew was announced, Irish Film Institute director Ross Keane commented on Twitter “This almost feels like the final blow. Arts centres to close by 8pm. That’s when we all do our business. It’s a controlled environment that doesn’t get more raucous as the evening goes on. We’re safe & responsible. What’s the difference between someone sitting at a matinee and an evening performance?”

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times