The Stage

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Frequently Asked Questions

1) Where can I learn more about The Stage?

Who we are...

THE STAGE is the world's longest established entertainment trade weekly.

It is published in London and sells about 34,000 copies each week. Its readers come from every sector of the entertainment industry - both in front of and behind the curtain - and every issue of THE STAGE is packed with the latest news, reviews, features and advertising.

The Stage History

NOEL COWARD is alleged to have said 'The moment you have arrived in the profession is when you realise you don't have to read THE STAGE'. True, perhaps, but the paper is still going strong today, despite the shortage of employment those in the entertainment industry face.

On February 1 1880, the new partnership of Maurice Comerford and Charles Lionel Carson published the first issue of its theatrical newspaper. They called it THE STAGE Directory - a London and Provincial Theatrical Advertiser, because it contained listings of towns and their theatrical facilities along with the more varied material similar to that which appears today - news, reviews and feature articles. Technology - or the lack of it - meant no pictures for some years! It cost three pence for 12 pages, whilst advertisements were charged at 30 words for one shilling, and it operated from then unfashionable Covent Garden, opposite the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where it would remain until 1978.

Comerford, 26 at the time of the launch and Carson, 33, were enthusiastic about their new title, and determined to succeed where others had failed; unlike today, Victorian England had a plethora of theatre titles, most notably amongst them one called The Era. With Comerford as business manager and Carson as Editor, the paper prospered; they later reduced its cover price to one penny and were eventually successful in destroying the competition; it still remains the only title of its kind in the UK today.

Over the years, just about every famous name in the business will have had his or her first mention in the paper; back copies therefore make fascinating and educational reading and are used by researchers world-wide. Its readers are actors, dancers, singers, comedians, speciality acts, musicians, playwrights, technicians, lighting designers, stage managers, agents, managers, municipal entertainment officers, drama students, teachers - and countless others.

Naturally, as time has moved on, so has THE STAGE. Its first years were concerned with music hall and theatre; later it would cover the introduction of radio and television, and now it visits countless areas of entertainment in each weekly edition - theatre, dance, opera, light entertainment and their technical aspects, too. Its advertising section is of equal value, acting as weekly market place and job finder for the industry, and recruitment is now included on this website free of charge.

It has celebrated its 50th, 75th and 100th birthdays, managing never to miss an issue even throughout two world wars, and in April 1996, brought out a special issue to mark the 6000th issue.

Publishing technology has advanced massively in recent years and although traditional in its tabloid newsprint format, the paper is produced using state of the art equipment both at its London offices and Leicester printers; the entire weekly paper is transmitted to Leicester electronically and the printing completed in one hour.

Throughout this long and evolving history, one factor has remained constant - its ownership. The Carson family were active up to the death of Lionel Carson jnr in 1936 when Maurice Comerford's son Hugh took over the management. Today the Comerford family continue to own and run THE STAGE. Hugh's son Frank took over from him in 1954 and Frank's daughter Catherine succeeded him in 1992.

THE STAGE is available each Thursday on the news stands and via subscription. For real enthusiasts and researchers, a complete record of every issue back to 1880 can be purchased on microfilm or viewed at the Central Reference Library, St. Martin's Street, London WC2. Transfer of the entire archive to digital format is currently underway.
For real enthusiasts and researchers, a complete record of every issue back to 1880 can be purchased on microfilm (from The Stage offices; please contact us for prices) or viewed at the Central Reference Library, St. Martin's Street, London WC2H 7HP (020 7641 4636 or 4634).

The company also publishes
SHOWCALL, an annual directory available to bookers, agents and venues free of charge containing details of over 1000 light entertainment artists with contact information. It has its own website which can be accessed free of charge.

So what else does the stage do? THE STAGE has direct involvement in a number of areas of the industry it serves. On the charitable front, its policy is to support exclusively members of the entertainment profession in times of need, and the dedicated charities which support them. Applications which fit the criteria are always given consideration.

THE STAGE sponsors various theatre-related associations and new writing initiatives on an annual basis, and has its own awards for acting excellence at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and an award for special achievement at the British Regional Theatre Awards.

Particularly well established in the company's calendar is its five day light entertainment showcase held in November, where a vast number of acts are able to perform in front of agents and bookers from every employment sector in the industry, including clubs, pubs, cruise/ferry boats, holiday centres at home and abroad, hotels, tv etc.
For further details of this year's event, please contact us.