Beyond Theatre, an immersive musical theatre production company, has created a drive-in theatre concept to be able to stage live theatre and music in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
The first Drive Inside venue is located in the centre of Manchester, UK, and the company has plans to travel to London and Edinburgh. The lockdown was imposed just days before the planned UK premiere of Beyond Theatre’s new immersive musical, The White Witch.
“People love live music, ballet, opera and theatre, but they need to be completely confident that a venue is absolutely, rather than probably, COVID-19-safe,” said Paul Levin, one of Beyond Theatre’s creators. “This virus has affected the future of our creative arts and we are excited that Drive Inside will allow the industry to start getting back to some sort of normality and audiences to begin enjoying live performances again.”
The venue has a raised stage in the centre and taking account of the uncertain UK weather, is covered by a huge tent, although the sides are mainly unenclosed. The tent covers an area spanning more than 70,000ft² (6,503m²), to protect an audience of up to 800, plus performers.
Cars are directed to dedicated spaces. Audiences can alight only on the driver’s side, entering their own isolated area. Using folding chairs, which are readily available, audience members can leave their cars and soak up the atmosphere generated from a live show. There will always be a car between parties, to ensure disciplined compliance to social distancing. The venue is licensed and has full catering facilities.