Judi Dench and Simon Callow contribute to Hackney actor's lockdown theatre book

Lloyd McDonagh and Salvatore Scarpa

The Stage Door project is from Lloyd McDonagh and Salvatore Scarpa - Credit: Lloyd McDonagh and Salvatore Scarpa

Dame Judi Dench and Simon Callow are among the 92 theatre insiders who have contributed to a lockdown-born book, Exeunt: A Stage Door Project.  

When theatres closed during the pandemic, two actors, Lloyd McDonagh and Hackney-based Salvatore Scarpa took the show on the road to photograph the “magic and mystery” of the stage door.  

When the pandemic began, Scarpa was touring in a show and McDonagh was on the West End, but both sadly lost their jobs when lockdown started.

A report commissioned by the University of Sheffield showed that 55 per cent of jobs in the art, culture and heritage sectors were furloughed during the pandemic. 

Scarpa said: “We both shared this passion for photography so we decided to jump into our other creative outlets while theatres were shut down.  

“Everybody has a really special connection to the stage door. It is like a portal to another world. When we asked people to contribute, we left it open. And we received poems, funny stories, the first time they walked into the stage doors to musings on what that means to them."

McDonagh said: “The main thing that we both took from it was that it was moving. You’re asking someone to recall a time when it was so positive and so exciting to be walking through these doors, and this was being recounted in a time when it was so dark and depressing.”   

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While the book includes contributions from actors, it also showcases reflections from a “vast range of industry professionals” including directors, artistic directors, lighting designers, stage designers and wardrobe assistants.  

“The book felt like a stage door itself for all the world of theatre,” Scarpa said, while McDonagh added: “There’s a huge team behind the scenes that allow the show to go on. We wanted to make sure we were inclusive of everyone in the book”.    

McDonagh emphasised that Exeunt is “not just a book for the industry". 

He said: “It’s telling a story that needs to be told, and hopefully we will never have to experience anything like this again.”  

The book was published by Renard Press and proceeds from sales of the book go to The Actors’ Benevolent Fund, ArtsMinds and Theatre Artists Fund. 

Exeunt: A Stage Door Project is available to pre-order at https://linktr.ee/StageDoorProject.  

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