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Letters of the week

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Supporting role

It is an unfortunate fact that as a regular theatregoer on curtain calls, the leading actors don’t always mention the My Theatre Matters! campaign.

Clearly, the entire profession is not always pulling together at a time when it should surely be all hands to the pump.

Gordon Steff
Wharncliffe Road
Shipley

 

Amateur groups help hone skills 

Mr Hescott, I have just read your article, ‘We need apprentice companies of actors’, in The Stage (page 10-11, November 28).

I totally agree with what you are saying, and more opportunities should be available to all entering the business of shows, but again this model could be used to support people who would like to do behind the scenes roles. These are as important, if not more so, as the more companies are set up by these people, the more opportunities to train or hone skills.

Now here’s where I get controversial – why not hone these skills with amateur theatre? I am a non-acting member of a group winding down after 79 years. We are having to do this because young people only want to be in the limelight, so as our membership gets older, dies out or loses interest as rather than being a hobby it becomes a non-paying full-time job on top of your actual full-time job. This is where the enthusiastic drama school graduate may be useful, as they have the gusto to learn, create and enjoy what they do.

Their involvement may reinvigorate a sector which without it may not produce and encourage the professionals of tomorrow, and will give them more of an understanding of the trials and tribulations of budget theatre.

This will not help our society, but we can be proud that we have sent many a ex-member on their way into the profession on both sides of the tabs throughout our 79 years. They could still pursue their auditions, but the skills they have and bring could produce the next Olivier, Kenwright or Mendes, if as you say they are given the chance to use what they know.

I presume most will still look at the amateur sector as being beneath them, but I assure you it’s not, and can say some are far more skilled and professional, with a passion that is unrivalled, given that all do it for nothing.

Robert Vaughan
Email supplied

 

Alhambra is a venue to treasure

In reference to the letter by Mr Gordon Steff, (Stage Talk, November 21), regarding the performance on opening night of Cabaret at Bradford Alhambra – as another audience member who was there on the same night, I would like to share my views on the experience of the same event.

It is unfortunate if someone felt a conversation by the lime box operators was disturbing their performance (and if this was the case, then yes, this needed to be stopped). Mr Steff commented that an upper circle attendant had to visit the upper circle box to stop this. The upper circle attendant could have been visiting the box for any number of reasons, but if they were going because noise was coming from the box, then I think this shows a good reflection of the staff at Bradford Alhambra, namely the circle attendant, doing a thorough and attentive job, making sure the audience has the best experience. I was seated in the stalls, (and as someone who has a strong sense of hearing and have been often referred to as someone who can hear the grass grow), I didn’t notice anything that impacted or restricted my enjoyment of what I considered to be a stunning performance and opening night.

Regarding comments about a theatre staff member talking loudly when booking another show that made it difficult to hear, the box office is in the foyer of the theatre. As with lots of theatre interiors, the box office is downstairs from the auditorium and not close to the upper circle. I don’t think a conversation at the box office could have been heard in the auditorium, so I wondered if Mr Steff meant he couldn’t hear himself when at the box office speaking to a staff member?

In relation to the comments about the theatre manager not replying to a letter, maybe he was busy or just hasn’t yet had chance to reply? I once had to speak to the Alhambra theatre manager to request a leaflet from a stall that had closed. The manager greeted me with a smile, was friendly, welcoming and reopened the stall himself to get the item I wanted – thus giving service with a smile and dealing with a member of the public in a friendly and courteous manner, which is the way I have always been treated by staff at the venue.

I am proud to live near Bradford Alhambra, and as someone who visits lots of theatres regularly around Leeds, Bradford, Manchester and London, I always look forward to visiting the Alhambra because of the many great shows and the lovely venue. It’s a building that is beautiful in terms of architecture and has a superb history and consistent programme of top running West End shows and performers, as well as lots of other great shows and theatre events for all ages. Everyone I know who visits the Alhambra feels proud to have the venue as their theatre. With a 2013/2014 season that includes top West End shows such as War Horse, Singin’ in the Rain and The Lion King, it has to be given a mention as a theatre that the audience loves to see a show in and the shows love to perform in.

One person’s opinion can’t be the overall judge of what makes a disappointing or great night at the theatre – and that includes Mr Steff and myself – who have differing experiences of the same night of entertainment. But there is one collective unit that can be the judge of a great night’s entertainment, and that’s the audience as a whole. On the opening night of Cabaret at Bradford Alhambra, just before curtain, the audience were so moved by the closing scene and their overall experience of the show that you could hear a pin drop. The audience were electrified by this performance, and the pin-drop silence followed by erupting standing ovation said it all for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Will Young and the cast of Cabaret performing at Bradford Alhambra, and look forward to my next visit to the venue to see and enjoy another great show.

Tony Lawton
Email supplied

 

A long tradition

Maggie Brown stated ‘CBeebies boldly uses real children’, as if this was some sort of innovation.

My days in children’s telly were some time ago, but even then children’s drama directors such as Angela Beeching, Paul Stone, Christine Secombe, Marilyn Fox and Jeremy Swan frequently used children in their dramas. And I, as a non-legit producer, featured children in many of my shows (We Are the Champions, Is That a Fact? The Antics Road Show, Play Days and, of course, Why Don’t You?). The latter, produced in Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff and Glasgow, seldom showed an adult. I believe Ant and Dec made their young TV debut in this show and Russell T Davies, of Doctor Who fame, had his first telly experience as drama coach for the Cardiff gang.

Good to hear CBeebies is keeping up the good work!

Peter Charlton
Email supplied

 

Tripping the light fantastic

Week after week we are thrilled by the dancing contestants and their partners in the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

Quite rightly, during every performance the judges, dancers, partners and musicians receive well-deserved applause.

However, may I send congratulations to the unseen technical ladies and gentlemen who do so much to make every dance routine a truly joyous event.

So much is owed by the performers to the unseen stars of the technical department, who create such amazing atmosphere by merely the use of light.

So to those who create such wonderful magic every performance, my sincere congratulations and the hope that your light will shine forever!

Colin Bower
Hall Street
Nottingham

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