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‘Actor’ or ‘actress’? The debate continues (your views, December 14)

Denise Gough. Photo: Manuel Harlan Denise Gough stands by the label of ‘actress’, arguing that women fought to be onstage. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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Regarding your poll on how to refer to female performers (Comment, December 7), there is an asymmetry in these terms.

‘Actor’ can mean a female or male performer. ‘Actress’ can only mean a female performer, so it is a marked term and hence a bit of an anomaly.

It may be an acceptable word to use in the short term, to shore up women’s increasing visibility in the theatre, but surely we should aim for ‘actor’, in which gender is not specified?

At the same time, we should be working towards increasing the participation of women in all aspects of theatre.

Jane Sunderland
Via thestage.co.uk

Wouldn’t it be best to have a poll asking for the views of only performers who identify as female?

Surely it is their opinion on how they wish to be identified that should be consulted – and no one else’s.

Max Lewendel
Via thestage.co.uk

Unwanted extras on top tickets

I have frequented the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, for many years, always buying top-price seats in the stalls.

When I booked for the recent production of The Magic Flute, I was told the ticket price included a glass of champagne and a programme, neither of which I wanted. However, there was no other option if I wanted to buy that seat.

Likewise, when booking for Mary Stuart at the Duke of York’s Theatre, the seat I wanted was available only if I paid a premium for champagne, which I did not want.

Is this a new way of stealthily increasing theatre ticket prices?

David Philip
Email address supplied

Stratford’s first black Othello

Ray Fearon did indeed play a successful Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1999.

Ray Fearon: ‘Theatre is the actor’s medium, it’s the place you want to come back to’

However, he was not the first black actor to play the part on the main stage at Stratford-upon-Avon. That was Paul Robeson during the 1959 centenary season.

Godfrey Chesshire
Email address supplied

Playwright gender survey

Every year, American Theatre Magazine produces its list of the top 10 most produced plays and top 20 most produced playwrights. It includes a tally of both the gender of the writers and the periods of origin.

I believe a similar exercise in the UK would be extremely revealing – and necessary if we are to achieve anything approaching gender parity.

This year, for the first time, the magazine will also look at how plays are chosen, by whom and why. I can only wonder what a similar exercise in the UK would throw up.

Alice Charles
Email address supplied

No more tabs in the West End?

I read Colin Rose’s letter ‘Stop delaying curtain up’ (December 7, p6) with interest.

I wonder if he could let me know which theatres in the West End still use house tabs, as it’s years since I saw any in use.

John Beveridge
Email address supplied

Just a matter of respect

Theatre stars’ response to sexual harassment allegations (News, December 7, p1) is understandable, but the answer is simple.

Glenda Jackson criticises ‘hypocritical’ response to theatre harassment allegations

In short, treat colleagues with the utmost respect at all times and new starters at work with even more care.

William Cardey
Via thestage.co.uk

Quotes of the week

People are crying out for this. Not everyone wants to see SpongeBob SquarePants, no offence to those who do. I think we’ve had enough of the flashing lights telling us not to think about anything. A play like this makes people sit in a room and empathise. It’s a dangerous thing for people to start caring about each other.
Denise Gough on People, Places and Things (LA Times)

“Having more women in positions of power would be an amazing thing. It’s madness that in 2017 there’s that male/female gap in equality and pay. Pay is taboo. Actors don’t talk about it because it’s a reflection of self-worth.”
Actor Ashley Jensen (Evening Standard)

“Got to see that incredible production of Follies at the National Theatre yesterday. Staunton is next level. One More Kiss = price of admission.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Twitter)

“Little Hamilton footnote: American Revolutionary War entirely avoidable (see under ‘Canada’). Completely the fault of arrogant, stubborn, deluded, incompetent British ministers, incapable of seeing others as partners rather than vassals. Remind you of anything?”
Composer Howard Goodall (Twitter)

“Nobody gets into this industry for any reason other than that they love it. Nine times out of 10 there is no money or very little. No, do it because you love it.”
Actor Charlie Stemp (Times)

“I think in the past you could buy a flat and live comfortably on theatre but you can’t do that any more, which means that you have to have a certain amount of celebrity and profile to therefore get TV and film work. The theatre world is so starved of funds and that’s unfortunately reflected in the pay. I think lots of actors would much rather do a wonderful part at the Royal Shakespeare Company but then you have to take a two-line part in a TV thing to pay the bills.”
Actor Morfydd Clark (Evening Standard)

“The Watermill Theatre [in Newbury] should be on everyone’s ‘desert island disc’ places to visit. It remains for me a memory I shall cherish for a lifetime. I shall always revisit those memories and hope to revisit in person with my family when they are old enough to make it an annual, if not seasonal, event.”
Actor Tom Chambers (WhatsOnStage)

“Love that Dame Judi isn’t too posh for a Colin the Caterpillar cake.”
Actor Ryan Nelson, Twitter

What you said on Facebook

About Nimax Theatres introducing a ‘scrunch test’ to combat noisy snacks…

Why anyone can’t go a couple of hours without eating or drinking is beyond me. Just ban it. You used to be able to smoke in theatres, but that was successfully banned long before the law changed and now no one would think of smoking in a theatre.
Joanna Blatchley

About the need for agents to deal with sexual harassment allegations…

I have been saying this to a lot of people, but the excuse agents seem to give here in Ireland is that you just have to work with difficult people. Agents never seem to take it seriously.
Niamh Tennyson

About critics commenting on actors’ appearances…

I just wish actors and actresses were allowed to keep their clothes on. There is such a thing as dignity. Nudity is rarely actually required for a part but currently there is a fashion for it.
Sara Neill

I’m an avid theatregoer, and I’m disabled and overweight. I am transfixed when female actors take their tops off on stage because they always have breasts like adolescent girls. I am distracted by wondering how freeing it must feel to have no boobs and I get angry that my body shape is never seen on stage. Then it dawns on me that all the female actors I see are the size of children. I’m always happy to see women of a bigger size on stage. Not much bigger: just a woman who looks like other women I see around me. It would be lovely to see a variety of body images.
Kat Pope

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