A letter from Mercury Creative Director, Ryan McBryde

I hope this finds you in the best of health and keeping safe during these difficult times.

I’m writing to you today to keep you updated about the progress of the Mercury. As you’re no doubt aware, the global pandemic continues to prevent us from reopening our freshly renovated building and delivering the exciting theatre experiences you’ve come to expect from us.

Like so many organisations across the world, we’ve made numerous plans for the future only to have them dashed by the virus, its variants and the ensuing lockdowns. Despite the ever moving goalposts, we’ve not stopped planning for the day when we can all be together again.

While the theatre remains closed we continue to provide digital content for the audiences and artists that make up our amazing community.

Last March, we launched Mercury Online and over the year we have run sing-a-longs with West End stars, bedtime stories, quiz nights and writing competitions, song contests hosted by Tim Minchin; we’ve streamed our productions of Cinderella and Pieces of String, launched our annual playwrighting scheme, platformed Black, Essex and Here, a networking event for Black artists in the East and hosted our first ever online digital festival with over thirty East-based artists taking part. Young people are at the heart of our work at the Mercury, so when the pandemic hit we moved our Young Company online and ran it virtually and shared their poems and monologues with the residents of local nursing homes to help combat isolation. We also sent our Mercury singers, Adam and Jenna, to care homes over Christmas, where they serenaded the occupants with hymns and carols.

Looking ahead, I’m pleased to say that each month you can take part in the following activities for free:


An informal virtual session, which provides playwrights with an opportunity to hear their plays read aloud by actors in front of a supportive Zoom audience. We’ve enjoyed hearing brand new plays by Ava Pickett, Kenny Emson, Tom Ratcliffe and the Olivier Award Winning Morgan Lloyd Malcolm. Our next session takes place on Wed 24 Feb and will feature Colchester playwright Paul T. Davies’ heart-warming new play Jacky.

How To

A masterclass with creative professionals from across the industry sharing their specialist skills and knowledge with an online audience. To celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month up and coming sessions will include:

Mon 8 Feb                             How To Develop your personal resilience toolkit

Mon 22 Feb                           How To Approach Queer Performances

Mon 8 Mar                            How To Perfect your Audition Monologue

Mon 22 Mar                          How To Adapt Books for the Stage


A networking meeting to share work, explore ideas and examine what’s important to East-based theatre makers in this brave new world.  February’s focus is LGBTQ+ creatives and in March the focus will be WOMXN creatives.

Over the next few months we will be streaming an online production of The Picture of Dorian Gray and a curated series of online events, giving you the chance to watch exclusive shows with celebrated authors, actors and podcasters, all from the comfort of your own home.

In February we’ll be celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month alongside Outhouse East and Colchester Pride.

In March we’ll be celebrating Holi Festival with a streaming of Bring on the Bollywood, which will be available from Mon 15 Mar to Sat 3 Apr.

And we’re proud to say that Mercury Creatives, our professional development programme, which provides business support for east-based creatives, continues to go from strength to strength. Applications for the next round close on Tue 9 Feb.


We’re still waiting on government guidance about when we can reopen but we’re looking forward to throwing open our doors later this year and welcoming you back. We can’t wait to put on a show for you. Reinventing old stories and conjuring up bold, new ones. Stories that electrify, stir and enrich; stories from fresh voices that demand to be heard; stories that enable us to identify with one another.

But it’s not just about the shows! We want to breathe life into our spaces all day long. We want to see parents coffee and caking in our café bar whilst their toddlers enjoy morning story-time, we want to see our senior citizens learning to Lindy Hop in our brand new dance studio, school choirs singing their hearts out on the terrace, families picnicking in the Roman wall garden, professionals hot-desking in our office, our young company rehearsing in the creative learning space.

And finally let me reassure you that when we return, your well-being will be at the heart of everything we do. New safety measures will be in place to ensure you feel completely relaxed with us. You’ll see the same friendly and familiar faces of the Mercury team and we’ll be delighted to see you.

We are your theatre, telling your stories, and we can’t wait to welcome you back.

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