To escape London rioters, bystanders barricade themselves inside a theatre
London's emergency services were on full-scale alert last night as rioting, fires and pitched battles with police erupted around the city from late afternoon. The Metropolitan police poured hundreds of extra officers onto the streets as trouble flared in the north, south and east of the capital. In Hackney, east London, masked and hooded youths smashed up shops and threw missiles, planks of wood and wheelie bins at riot police. Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh said the force was putting more officers on the streets in Hackney and other areas last night. A small group of people said they had barricaded themselves inside the 110-year-old Hackney Empire theatre to escape the violence. "We are stuck inside," said one person, who did not give her name, in a telephone conversation with the Reuters news agency. "We don't want to be near the windows. They seem to be targeting shops at the moment. Its very scary. We are in the back of the building, staying away from the front. We have barricaded the doors and put chains on the doors."
East London theatres feel impact of riots
The Stage, 8/8/11
Theatres in east London have been affected by the third day of rioting in the capital, with Hackney Empire and Theatre Royal Stratford East both feeling the impact of the violence. Staff at Stratford East have been sent home and the building closed this evening on police advice. This has happened as a "precaution only" - the riots have not so far spread to the area. There was no show programmed on [its] main stage, but a comedy night had been planned in the bar. Meanwhile, Hackney Empire has been engulfed in the riots, with violent protests spreading to the area around the theatre. [It] likewise does not have any shows currently programmed on its main stage. It is as yet unclear whether the historic theatre has suffered any damage.
Commentary: London burns (but the show goes on and I didn't know)
Mark Shenton, The Stage theatre blog, 8/9/11
There's nothing like the theatre to shield you from reality: the biggest worry in Regent's Park [last night] was whether rain would stop play (again) [at] the opening night of Crazy for You. We were in delirious, intoxicating oblivion. So much so that I got home and set to tweeting my pleasure, unaware that everywhere from Hackney and Croydon to Peckham, Lewisham, Clapham, Ealing, Camden, Bethnal Green, Stratford, Notting Hill, Colliers Wood and Dalston there was a war zone. According to a news report in today's Guardian, "a 100-strong mob cheered as a shop in the centre of Peckham was torched and one masked thug shouted: 'The West End's going down next'." As Lambeth council leader Steve Reed comments in the same story, "Somebody described it as gangs of kids doing Supermarket Sweep.... It wasn't about social issues, it was an opportunity to go on the rob." So unless they are desperate for tickets to see Jude Law in Anna Christie tonight, the Donmar Warehouse may be safe, even if the shops around it less so. Do we (try to) carry on as usual? With news that the riots last night spread outside London, too, to Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool, there's real drama -- and sickening violence -- playing out on the streets of our cities. Police are telling people to avoid Bristol city centre, so that's going to affect performances of the Bristol Old Vic's Treasure Island. But unless and until a curfew is imposed on the streets in London, I am still heading to the theatre; and yes, I'll still be tweeting, blogging and reviewing the results.
Will it be "business as usual" for West End theaters?
The Hollywood Reporter, 8/8/11
Entertainment attractions, cinemas and London's West End theaters will all be holding their collective breath to see if the civil unrest, looting and rioting of the past two nights spread to the heart of the British capital. The localized rioting in the North London borough of Tottenham Saturday evening in the wake of a vigil outside a police station for the death of local resident Mark Duggan, shot by police, sparked looting in other hotspots across the capital including an attempt to loot shops at Oxford Circus, in the heart of the West End. But it remains business as usual for the cinemas, theaters and other entertainment attractions with no reports of forced closures amid fears that the violence, looting and property damage may spread. After the July 7 London bombings in 2005, the cinemas refused to close in a bid to present a British stiff upper lip attitude to the terror attack. But this time, with riot police, dog patrols and a Metropolitan Police pledge to put more visible cops on the beat in the coming nights, it will remain to be seen if punters continue to visit cinemas, theaters and entertainment attractions. It being the height of the summer, industry observers think London's summer population of tourists will help keep numbers buoyant.
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UK's independent music labels left 'devastated' by riot fire
BBC News, 8/9/11
Independent record labels have been left "devastated" by a fire started by rioters which destroyed a stock warehouse in Enfield on Monday night. The building, owned by Sony DADC, was the main HQ for the UK's biggest distributor of independent music PIAS. The company looks after the stock of more than 150 record labels. One of them, Memphis Industries, tweeted: "All the stock we got left is sitting in our office. Devastated is the word." Labels who may have had stock stored in the unit include Domino, Warp and XL, who between them look after artists such as Adele and Arctic Monkeys. Spencer Hickman from the Rough Trade East record store said: "It's complete chaos, we don't know how long it's going to take them to get back on their feet. It looks like people have lost everything that was in the warehouse. I'm sure there are labels which aren't insured. I'm sure there will be labels that will go bust."