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Letters of the week

Craig Revel Horwood as Miss Hannigan. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
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Mountview gets out there plenty

I was interested to read Susan Elkin’s article on drama school auditions (London schools must get out more, October 2, page 27).

At Mountview, we have been conducting auditions across the UK for a number of years, regularly visiting Manchester, Norwich, Newcastle, Cardiff and Glasgow. We appreciate that attending auditions can be expensive, and so we promote regional audition dates throughout the application process, allowing candidates to pick an audition centre convenient for them. We are not the only London-based drama school that does this – our colleagues at LAMDA and Guildhall offer similar programmes.

It makes complete sense to us: we want a company of talented actors with a broad range of life experiences and backgrounds, so it is in our interest to minimise expense as much as possible and to create access to as socially and economically diverse a student community as possible.

Stephen Jameson
Principal and artistic director
Mountview Academy
Clarendon Road
London N22


Mob rule nothing new to the circus

I’m well aware that the arts world doesn’t hold the classical/traditional circus to be of value, in spite of its continuing vigour and clear popularity with the general public.

However, what is happening now to ‘arts’ events (Arts leaders unite against ‘moronic’ threat to free speech, October 2, front page) has been happening to the circus for years. Near-rioting and campaigns of lies from bullying animal activist organisations have resulted in unjustified public policies against us.

Animal circuses have proved their high standards by passing stringent inspections under the recently instituted licensing regime. Will Arts Council England, Richard Bean and others join now in extending their excellent plea for artistic freedom to help protect those circuses that follow ‘best practice’ – or will the arts world continue to be selective in what it deems worthy?

Chris Barltrop
Email address supplied


Craig’s Hannigan is such a drag

I was distinctly disturbed by Tabard’s column last week (New look is strictly for horror fans, October 2, page 9). Not because Craig Revel Horwood’s Miss Hannigan is a Bride of Chucky lookalike, but because he is taking the role in the first place.

This is a very worrying trait in today’s theatre: men stepping into female roles. Principal boys are predominantly played by men these days. Now we have Miss Hannigan being played by a man; no doubt more actors will jump on this bandwagon, too.

It’s difficult enough for actresses – particularly older actresses – to get parts, without men muscling in and stealing the few roles that are theirs. It is time Equity protected female roles and put a ban on men taking them, except for panto dames, which are traditionally male roles anyway. Or perhaps we actresses, ousted from our own roles, should do a bit of thieving of our own, and storm the parts of panto dames, or copy Sarah Bernhardt and play Hamlet?

How about it sisters? Let’s all turn up to the next audition for King Lear or Peer Gynt. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, after all…

Betty-Anne Selhurst
Tunbridge Wells


See it from my point of view

It’s press night for Electra at the Old Vic and I’m reading the reviews as they come in. The early ones are four and five stars, and I’m wondering if I saw an entirely different show. I watched a preview two nights ago, and I’m sad to say I did not enjoy it, but I think I know why: my seat was in the dress circle, extreme stage right, in front of a raised rail. It didn’t face the stage, but some other seats. I could see maybe two thirds of the stage if I arched over to look, and it cost me £25.

I’m sure with such a wonderful cast and creative team, Electra is a great show, and I wish I could have seen it properly – but apparently that would have cost me twice the price. Theatres must wake up fast if they think it is acceptable to charge that kind of money for that kind of experience. If I were a first-time theatregoer, I wouldn’t be returning anytime soon.

So how about this: I challenge the critics who gave these reviews to go and sit in these seats and see how their opinion changes.

E Hulme
Email address supplied

Read The Stage’s review of Electra


Theatreland must play a new tune

I’m wondering if there’s a market out there for musicals that aren’t revivals or jukebox musicals? It’s “difficult”, says Tim Rice. Sadly, his musical version of the 1950s novel From Here to Eternity was never going to be a hit because the only people who remember the film and novel are pushing 70, and for them the wonderful film cast of Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Ernest Borgnine and Frank Sinatra are forever burnt into their memories. Who could follow those charismatic superstars? Not even the excellent Darius.

As a struggling composer, the establishment’s control over the West End breaks my heart, with the sad and (very) old favourites Les Mis, Cats and Evita wheeled out. How about Jurassic Park the Musical? Dinosaurs by dinosaurs!

Charlie Black
Address provided