Members’ views count in court
A report in The Stage on March 3, 2009, ‘Sources of £1.2m Equity funds remains a mystery’, gave members some information on a confidential forensic accountants report regarding undistributed members’ money relating back at least to the mid-1990s.
A year or so later perhaps, Equity decided to request a court to rule on how the £1.2 million should be spent.
Unexpected progress on that came to me in August from Equity’s solicitors, who confirmed that they had “been instructed by the trustees of Equity to make an application to the High Court Chancery Division to seek permission of the court to apply the so-called Unknown Funds of the union for the general purposes of the union”.
“Counsel Edward Bragiel has advised Equity that in order for all the appropriate legal submissions to be put before the court, representative defendants to the claim should be appointed to put the arguments on behalf of members of the union and non-members.”
At the suggestion of the union’s general secretary, I was invited to act, as a representative for members of Equity holding opposing views to those of the trustees, to put those differing views to the court. If I accepted, all arguments would be dealt with by Equity’s solicitors, paid for by Equity.
I accepted the role but questioned the lack of independent representation for different arguments. The trustees’ response via the general secretary was that there could be independent representation if I paid for it – an offer I am seeking members’ opinion on before I make any decision.
While the union obviously could not provide me with members’ personal protected details, approval was given for me to continue to circulate information of the court’s requirements to union members via branch secretaries and, with Equity’s generous help, to specialist committee members via chairmen. The information sent to them all has included my personal communication details.
To satisfy what Equity’s legal advisers confirm is the court’s requirements, I am ready to receive and collate the specific ideas of those union members who have opposite views to the trustees, and who wish to see the £1.2 million available funds used individually, collectively, locally, at branch or area level, regionally or nationally across the UK in any specific way the member feels is appropriate – to the ‘benefit of members’.
Girls will be boys in inspired move
An all-female Julius Caesar at the Donmar has already sold out for the run and it hasn’t even opened. So what does that tell you? At last, new exciting theatre and a desire to see excellent actresses directed by an excellent female director.
It also proves what Equity members have been saying for a number of years – drama with actresses of all ages is commercial. Since, apparently, women buy more than 70% of theatre tickets, this is what they want.
I am aware all-female casting is not unique, and even if some are coming to see the venture fall on its face, who cares? That surely is what public subsidy should be for – the right to risk failure in order to innovate and inspire.
Okay fellas, you’ve had your Olivia, Rosalind, Celia, Lady Bracknell and – more recently – Miss Prism. Well, here comes our Caesar, Brutus and Mark Antony.
How exciting. How refreshing. How about time.
Vice president Equity
Why trigger an identity crisis?
Do the people who change theatre names realise that the theatre loses its identity when they do that? It is confusing to the tradespeople and disrespectful to the mainstay, mature theatregoer. All the people I have spoken to hate it. It’s a case of ‘wear the fox hat’ all the time now.
Extra special memories
It was with much sadness that I learned of the passing of Herbert Lom (Obituaries, October 11, page 37). The letter in the same issue from Valerie Braithwaite brought memories of his 1947 film Dual Alibi for me. The circus scenes were filmed in Blackpool at the Tower Circus, and I was in the audience.
Sixteen years old at the time and a keen member of the Blackpool Amateur Cine Club – a notice in the local paper had invited the public to participate.
Wanting to see first-hand how the professional film-makers went about their business, I joined the queue on the promenade and became one of the 500 or so unpaid extras (so what’s new?).
I enjoyed the experience immensely, and became a firm fan of Herbert Lom. My own favourite performances of his were in The Ladykillers, Gambit and, of course, Dual Alibi – the latter now being available }on DVD.
As a footnote, my early movie-making exploits were on the 9.5mm gauge, while most of the other club members used 8mm – later super-8 – and one with a 16mm bolex. The 9.5mm film had a single sprocket hole running down its centre, while the other formats, plus 35mm, have sprocket holes along the edges.
In a more up to date context, it was the equivalent of having a Betamax video recorder when everyone else was using VHS.
Sweets sorrow at snack attack
As connoisseurs, and serial victims, of inconsiderate behaviour by fellow playgoers, our spirits were lifted the other evening at the Harold Pinter Theatre by a strict notice that latecomers to A Chorus of Disapproval would not be readily admitted and by the verbal endorsement from the box office that “we are a theatre, not a cinema”. Bravo.
Heading for our seats, we asked for a programme and were told by the usher that it would be £4, “but for £5 you may have a bag of sweets as well”.
The man whose name now adorns that dear old house would be as outraged as we were – did he not ban the sale of confectionery when he directed Simon Gray’s The Late Middle Classes at the Palace, Watford, in 1999?
At close quarters, and at a moment of dramatic quiet, the ripping open of an Allsorts packet can sound like a pistol shot – as indeed can the crunch of a plastic cup or water bottle. What bliss it would be if theatre managements decreed, at any rate with regard to their auditoria, “and nor are we a cafe”.
John and Sue Coldstream
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