Bosco, the puppet theatre star beloved by generations of Irish children, has been forced to cancel a long-running tour due to uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bosco, who had been due to play the Everyman Theatre on 30 January, made the announcement through puppeteer Paula Lambert, who said she was very sorry to have to cancel the show.
“I’m heartbroken,” Ms Lambert told.
“I’ve had to make the decision to cancel the tour because I just couldn’t cope with the uncertainty of not being able to plan from one week to the next, and not knowing whether a show will be cancelled at the last minute.”
Ms Lambert said she had made the decision to cancel the tour because she felt it was unfair to her son, who works with her, and her sound engineer, who were living in the same uncertainty as she was.
Ms Lambert said that Covid-19 restrictions reducing live venue capacity to 50% had put small acts under terrible strain, and said that because Bosco’s shows tend to charge €10 a head for families, with theatres typically getting 30% of the takings, her shows were becoming financially unviable.
“Then if you factor in the cost of advertising, and transportation, it starts to get scary,” she said.
Ms Lambert began her career as a puppeteer in the puppet theatre founded by her parents, Eugene and Mai, working on RTÉ on Wanderly Wagon, Fortycoats and then Bosco.
Ms Lambert said she was conscious that everyone has made huge sacrifices since the pandemic began, with so many people losing their lives to Covid-19, and she knew restrictions were in place to help save lives, but she criticised what she said was a lack of support for independent artists.
“There are supports there for the bigger players, but there’s nothing there for the little guy, like Bosco, and with the pandemic unemployment pay cut to €200, you’re prevented from working and then you’re not supported,” she said.
Ms Lambert said she was hopeful she would be able to resume her tour in the autumn, but in the meantime, she said, she was going to “take a deep breath” and move from Dublin to the countryside, where she and Bosco plan on starting a wildlife garden.
Bosco told: “I’m very excited to be moving my box to the country, and to be starting a new adventure, and I can’t wait to have my own wildlife garden and a pond so I can play with all the little creatures.”
Ms Lambert said she was hopeful of a return to the Everyman in the autumn, saying she and Bosco always feel at home when they are Leeside.
“I feel very indebted to the Everyman over the years, as I honestly don’t think our little puppet theatre would have survived without them.
Bosco similarly spoke highly of the warm welcome they always receive in Cork.
“I can’t wait to see all the girls and boys and I hope I can get back to the Everyman in the autumn because the Everyman is like a big warm blanket and everyone working there is so lovely,” Bosco said.
A spokesperson for the Everyman said Bosco would be welcomed back with open arms when the show gets back on the road.
“We can’t wait to see Bosco either, because it is always such a joy to see yet another generation of children embracing the magic of Bosco,” the spokesperson said.