Further to my letter (July 18) Caroline Ball has taken down her e-petition to make Shakespeare’s birthday a bank holiday. A huge thank you for everyone’s invaluable help in this matter.
Elsewhere, the prime minister has thanked us for our petition of June 24 which we are told, is ‘currently under consideration’.
Meanwhile, my team has created a new e-petition requesting that ‘Her Majesty’s Government institute Shakespeare Day on April 23, 2015 and annually thereafter as a calendar date’. It can be viewed at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions
This would of course be taken down should our recent petition in person meet with No Ten approval. If we can have special days ‘created’ solely for marketing purposes – Mothers’ Day [not Mothering Sunday] for example was originally conceived in the US as a call to unite women against war but now it is simply a commercial celebration of motherhood thanking mothers for their custom – why not a national celebration of the Bard day to whom we all owe an enormous debt and to whom thanks is well overdue?
David Cameron may well deliver that vision. One in which education secretary Michael Gove has taken a brave lead and for which great credit should be afforded him. Gove wrote:
“Shakespeare’s place in the life of our nation must be sacrosanct. No writer has contributed more to our national identity than Shakespeare. His works give unparalleled insights into human nature. We owe it to our children to introduce them to his genius.”
Finally, I should mention that we have asked the government department responsible for e-petitions to pass on our thanks to Ms Ball.
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Never an excuse for not paying
Dillie Keane defends punk cabaret performer Amanda Palmer’s use of free labour (in exchange for hugs, beer and gratitude) (July 25, page 11) in her recent concerts by saying nobody’s forcing them.
Although this is true, she also describes Palmer as an artist with integrity. Having just made over a million dollars with her Kickstarter campaign, where, by her own admission she had a very large chunk set aside for payment of staff and crew, also estimating having over 230,000 profit, why her musicians could not get even a small cut of this is beyond me.
As someone who has a band and generally plays pubs and dives, I always make sure my band members get something if we make any money. Even if it’s a fiver, it’s the principle of recognition of working contribution which counts. If I was playing Glastonbury, I’m sure I would see fit to pay my musicians something beyond hugs.
Would Keane have been happy to play to huge audiences at professional theatres for free when she was starting out or is it all about the prestige as per musicians being asked to play for free at the Olympic ceremonies? As for the Daily Mail (with its reputation for unbiased, politically correct pro-feminist criticism) reviewing her boob, they were clearly unfamiliar with Ms Palmer who appears to enjoy displaying said boob at any given opportunity.
It is a shame because Palmer is a talented artist who by example could be doing so much more to support those of us further down the ladder.
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What’s Hurley on about?
‘At the heart of Beats is a question about community and radical potential for a real sense of community in a completely individual society.’ This is Keiran Hurley speaking (The Stage, July 25, page 22).
For God sake! What does it mean? I had thought with the death of Harold Pinter that gobbledegook had ceased to walk our theatre’s boards but his spectre still hovers.
Someone should tell Mr Hurley that the parade’s gone by and the capitalist dragons have been slain long since. It used to be said that a man who wasn’t communist at 20 had no heart, and if he were not anti-communist by the 30 he had no head.
Where is Mr Hurley in this transitional phase? A play’s purpose is to deliver its impact in the auditorium. And there it ends, or should do.
The play does not have to be scaffolded fore and aft later with the author’s nervous narrative unless he is missing his vocation and yearns to be on Speaker’s Corner. Bernard Shaw’s wordy presentations have been cleared out of the loft with other Victorian lumber.
A play text is, or should be, a challenge for big ideas to be explored with small words, not the reverse.
Over-education has no place in our theatre. And thank God Shakespeare wasn’t a graduate or he would have been waffling on like Mr Hurley.
Frank R Long
Is awards prejudice afoot?
Tom Laughton speculates as to which contemporary actresses might be dubbed dames on future honours lists (Stage Talk, July 18), putting forward the names of Janet McTeer and Olivia Colman while referring to their film and television work.
Although he cites Judi Dench and Maggie Smith as ‘theatrical dames’, the overwhelming majority of people will know them from the likes of Cranford, Downton Abbey, James Bond and Harry Potter. Even most readers of The Stage will never have seen them work on stage.
When contemplating the frivolity of which actors should get to be sirs or dames, it is unfortunate that those who do screen more often than the different discipline of stage appear to be deemed by the Palace or Number Ten to only be worthy of the lesser something-BEs.
We should have been able to speak of Deborah Kerr or Jean Simmons as ‘cinematic dames’, but even Claire Bloom couldn’t make it to dame in the last honours list, despite all her actual board-treading.
Perhaps she was thought to have cheapened herself by working with the likes of Charlie Chapin and Woody Allen, and a dame shouldn’t have been Doctor Who’s mother.