A COMMUNITY theatre is looking to rebuild its audience after a successful world premiere.

Tim Whitnall’s Flying Ducks was warmly received at the Theatre Royal Ramsbottom for the venue’s first run after lockdown.

And now Summerseat Players, responsible for the Smithy Street auditorium, has plans to revive their 1,000 strong pre-pandemic patrons list.

Players chairman Geoff Sword said: “Many loyal patrons are still with us but in 18 months of Covid precautions and lockdowns, we have to prove that our ‘see it safely’ policy is working so that audiences can return with confidence

“We deliberately kept ticket sales down to about 60 per cent of the 200 seat capacity and that helped us with deep cleaning, nightly cleaning after every performance, extra entrances and exits for audiences , distance seating and advice to help people with Covid protocols. Flying Ducks proved we got it right.”

But lockdown has meant the theatre company losing thousands of pounds in revenue through lost ticket sales, bar receipts and subscriptions.

And Geoff is concerned some regular may not immediately return, even though current precautions will continue until the end of their season in March 2022.

The current season include six main productions, each running for 10 nights, with two further plays pencilled in for their studio theatre.

Theatre bosses have been buoyed though by the response to Flying Ducks, by the Bafta-winning Whitnall, who was impressed after the Players’ productions of his plays ‘Morecambe’ and the ‘Sociable Plover’ were each feted at the Greater Manchester Drama Federation annual awards.

One of Players’ regulars, Andrea Parle, who directed ‘Sociable Plover’, alos took the helm for Flying Ducks.

Whitnall said after the latest run: “I was proud to test my play in a small theatre in Ramsbottom.”

Next up for the theatre company is E Nesbitt’s The Railway Children, by Mike Kenny, and promoters are in discussion with the East Lancashire Railway over some promotional opportunities along the heritage line.