Media release: Monday 06 April 2020 (by Shelter PR)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, DryWrite, Soho Theatre and Annapurna Theatre, in partnership with National Theatre Live in London and Amazon Prime Video, have joined together to make the critically acclaimed filmed theatre production of FLEABAG available to stream to raise funds for several UK based charities that are on the front lines of combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting those affected by it. Recorded at Wyndham’s Theatre and first broadcast to cinemas by NT Live in September 2019, FLEABAG will be available to stream in the UK and Ireland first for an initial run as of today, Monday, April 6th on Soho Theatre’s On Demand streaming site. Shortly thereafter, for two weeks beginning on Friday, April 10th, the performance of FLEABAG will expand to include access on Soho Theatre On Demand in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as on Amazon Prime Video (US, UK), the studio partner of the award-winning television series of the same name. The production will be available for a 48-hour download for £4.00 (approximately $5.00 US). All proceeds (less taxes and processing costs) will be distributed to charities including The National Emergencies Trust (NET), NHS Charities Together and Acting For Others, as well as the newly launched FLEABAG SUPPORT FUND, which will distribute grants of £2500 to freelancers working in the UK theatre industry affected by the crisis. The organization in the US that will benefit from proceeds raised by downloading the production will be shared later this week.
Fundraising support was kickstarted at £356,000 with a substantial donation from Phoebe Waller-Bridge and further donations from TodayTix and an anonymous donor. These funds have already been distributed to NET, NHS Charities Together and the FLEABAG SUPPORT FUND. The FLEABAG SUPPORT FUND will continue to raise funds via a dedicated GoFundMe page, which can receive donations and via Instagram @FleabagforCharity.
Written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and directed by Vicky Jones, produced under their DryWrite banner by Francesca Moody, the one-woman show played to a sold-out house at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End last summer and a sold-out house Off Broadway in New York last Spring.
Waller-Bridge said: “I hope this filmed performance of FLEABAG can help raise money while providing a little theatrical entertainment in these isolated times. Thank you to all our partners and to the creative team who have waived their royalties from this production to raise money for such vital causes in this unbelievably challenging situation. All money raised will support the people throughout our society who are fighting for us on the frontlines and those financially devastated by the crisis, including those in the theatre community. Thank you in advance to those who donate. Now go get into bed with Fleabag! It’s for charity! Px”
The National Emergencies Trust (NET) Coronavirus Appeal will receive 35% of each donation, supporting the most vulnerable in society. The NET will be funding local charities across the UK, including social isolation charities, food banks and others supporting individuals impacted by coronavirus.
John Herriman, Chief Executive Officer of National Emergencies Trust, said: “We are facing an unprecedented national emergency that is causing suffering to people in so many different ways. We urgently need more money to tackle this crisis – many people are suffering, not just physically, but also economically, emotionally and socially. We are delighted to be receiving donations from this initiative. These funds will help the NET provide vital support to those who need it most as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Additionally, 35% of each donation will be sent to NHS Charities Together, which supports NHS staff and volunteers caring for COVID-19 patients.
Ellie Orton, CEO of NHS Charities Together said: “We are so proud of our incredible NHS staff and volunteers, who are working tirelessly day and night to care for COVID-19 patients and our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones during this emergency, which also sadly includes the loss of heroic nurses and healthcare workers. For many staff, this also means difficult personal sacrifices – including staying away from their own homes and families. Our member charities are supporting NHS staff, volunteers and patients across the UK by providing food deliveries, overnight stay kits, high energy refreshments for those working long hours on wards, covering the cost of travel, parking and accommodation and volunteer expenses. NHS charities also supporting patients’ mental health through isolation with electronic communication devices so they can talk more easily to family and friends. By supporting our hard-working NHS teams we can help to ensure patients get the best possible care when they need it most.”
Acting For Others, an organization that provides financial and emotional support to theatre workers in times of need, will receive 15% of each donation. As theatres across the UK have gone dark, cinemas, galleries, museums and concert venues have closed their doors, TV shows and films have paused production, workers in the arts sector are particularly at risk of losing their earnings.
Actress/Actor Samantha Bond, Ambassador for Acting For Others said: “Coronavirus is having a disastrous economic impact on the arts industry, and on the often precarious incomes of those working within it. Tens of thousands of theatre workers across the UK are facing the sudden loss of their job, and the very real prospect of having no work for several months. Around 290,000 people in the UK work in theatre, and 60-70% of them are freelancers. They have mortgages to pay and families to feed. This will offer a much-needed lifeline to those who are struggling to make ends meet.”
The remaining 15% of each donation will go to the FLEABAG SUPPORT FUND, distributing grants of £2500 to freelancers working in the theatre industry who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic and are in urgent financial need. Details of how to apply for a grant will be available at https://sohotheatre.com/fleabagsupportfund/.
FLEABAG is produced by DryWrite, Soho Theatre and Annapurna Theatre.