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Letters of the week

A scene from Pitlochry Theatre's 2012 production of White Christmas. Photo: Douglas McBride
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Bravo WYP, but we got there first

I was interested to read Roger Foss’ review of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at West Yorkshire Playhouse (What’s On, December 4, page 15); it sounds like a great show. One thing it isn’t, however, is what Roger calls “the first UK non-facsimile version of Walter Bobbie’s 2004 Broadway production”.

I think you’ll find that our award-winning production of White Christmas here at Pitlochry Festival Theatre in 2012 was actually the first “non-facsimile version” to be staged in the UK. Indeed, it was thought a bit of a coup for Scotland’s Theatre in the Hills to have beaten all those metropolitan producers to the punch…

John Durnin
Chief executive and artistic director
Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Email address supplied


Culture’s worth is written in history

Editor Alistair Smith’s comment on the education secretary’s blinkered view of the arts is absolutely correct (Leader, November 20, page 8). May I add a further endorsement?

History shows us that the arts and culture hugely enhance the progressive strengths of a people and a society. Athens not only gave us democracy and geometry but also the plays of Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, plus the Parthenon and the ideas of Plato.

The Elizabethan/Jacobean period explored the globe as never before but also gave us Shakespeare, Marlowe and the foundations of British drama.

The Victorian years, for all the hardships of many, brought new inventions, science, evolution, engineering and water supplies, along with the poetry of Keats, Shelley, Byron and Wordsworth, the novels of Dickens and George Eliot, and the theatre of Henry Irving.

Many of our present bunch of politicians – who, I’m afraid, I sometimes think of as Those Worst Equipped to Represent the People, or TWERPs – fail to recognise that the energy and ‘bounce’ of a people are more enhanced and thrilled by the accessibility of the arts and culture than by a 0.2% growth of the GDP over the last quarter.

Ian Flintoff
Orchard Court
Rose Hill


Sound answers required, please

I visit London theatres at least once a month and am led to believe that voice projection and the organs of articulation are used to perfection by the actors. However, I have also heard of microphones being used.

I have two questions I wish to pose to readers of The Stage:

1. How many London theatres use microphones?

2. When London theatres were constructed, how much importance was given to voice projection, ie acoustics, and was this importance instrumental in the design of the theatres?

I remain astonished by the human capability to project one’s voice and be heard in any part of the theatre.

John White
Email address supplied


Selby’s wines the toast of France

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s lovely piece on corpsing (‘Dead funny? The joy of corpsing on stage’, November 20, page 10) will have awoken happy memories in most actors. My favourite occurred during a performance of John Barton’s Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry V at the Aldwych in 1965.

At one point, the king of France gathers his armies. “You dukes of Orleans, Bourbon and of Berri…” and there follows a long list of French nobility. In this production, the French king was played by that splendid actor Nicholas Selby. On one occasion, there was an unusual nano-   second’s pause before the list of names, and it was immediately apparent to those of us on stage that Nick had momentarily forgotten the list. But without stopping he went straight on: “… you Dukes of Beaujolais, Macon and Sancerre…”. I forget the exact wine list that Nick conjured up, but you can imagine the effect on the cast. Never can so many sets of shoulders have been shaking like ripples on a rough pond.

After the performance, I met a friend in the pub. She’d been in the audience. “Erm, did something happen in the king of France scene…?”

Peter Mair
Savernake Road
London NW3


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