In the wake of recent sexual harassment allegations, we need to examine the role of agents.
What part should actors’ agents have played when such allegations and incidents were reported? Or are performers so unsure of their relationships with their agents that such incidents were never raised or discussed? And if they were reported, did agents ever raise this with casting directors or the Casting Directors’ Guild ?
This seemingly impenetrable wall of silence is a concern.
Perhaps stage schools should review their curriculums to make sure they include a course on ways to speak out in such situations and not be afraid to come forward and have problems aired and resolved.
Savage cuts at Bristol Old Vic
I was very disappointed to hear Bristol Old Vic is facing a 65% local funding cut.
Way back in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was a member of staff, the city council was not known for its generosity towards the BOV, so not much has changed.
The council has always been keen to promote this wonderful theatre, but shamefully reluctant to put its hands in its pocket.
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No interval, no convenience
Mark Shenton may say there’s no need to mourn the interval’s demise (thestage.co.uk, November 30), but who wants to sit through the second half not being able to concentrate because they’re desperate for the loo?
Performing plays without an interval will especially discourage people from bringing children to the theatre – it’s not much good for old folk or diabetics either.
Inaudible actors ruin shows
Watching two plays recently – Beginning at the National Theatre’s Dorfman and Albion at the Almeida – I missed a chunk of dialogue, as the actors whispered or mumbled their lines.
In the former, Sam Troughton pitched many of his lines upstage. Both venues are small but I do like to hear lines projected so they can be properly heard in the auditorium.
Perhaps directors Polly Findlay and Rupert Goold should sit in different parts of the theatre during rehearsals to check line lucidity.
Stop delaying curtain up
Your correspondent Robert Dewbery (‘Late Starters’, Comment, November 30, p6 ) correctly draws attention to the current habit in almost every London theatre of a five to 10-minute delay in curtain up.
This imposition on a paying audience should be highlighted by articles in The Stage and in the national press, and an explanation offered by theatre managements.
I beg you to start the ball rolling.
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Fund critics at regional shows
I was particularly inspired by Alan Lane’s rallying cry for people’s theatre (‘Volunteers can help theatre connect with our fractured nation ’, Opinion, October 19).
All too often, culture in the North is neglected by critics, who focus on the South East and the commercial hub within the M25.
If theatres’ expenses extend to it, I recommend that critics should be offered a train ticket to travel to shows outside London .
The problem is, would they be able to catch a return train after the show?
Quotes of the week
“I have an older brother who became a doctor, and he is still considered the success in the family because science beats the arts.”
Actor Mark Hamill (Sunday Times)
“We have a responsibility to represent Scotland and Scottish cultural identity in a way that others don’t. That has to be reflected in the way we take theatre across the country, make it with communities, and export work beyond Scotland.”
Jackie Wylie, artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland (Guardian)
“This year is about me growing and coming back to theatre, because I’ve spent so many years in television. Theatre is the reason I became an actor. There’s nothing in my life that’s made me want anything that much as theatre did. It helped me break out of what was quite a quiet, run-of-the mill-life.”
Actor and singer Danny Mac, speaking at the WhatsOnStage Awards launch
“I’m not saying there’s shitloads of amazing untold women’s stories, but maybe we should consider most art ’til now as weird male propaganda to get us to sleep with them.”
Playwright Lucy Prebble (Twitter)
“Plays sometimes find their place, and it is ideal for that space. It seems to get disturbingly more relevant as time goes on. I started out wanting to write about the NSA, GCHQ and state surveillance, and as we have found out, Facebook, Google and Cambridge Analytica have a corporate dimension to surveillance that is even more disturbing. The interesting and difficult challenge of writing political plays is that drama is inherently about individuals, and power is inherently about systems and ideologies.”
Anders Lustgarten on his play The Secret Theatre (Evening Standard)
“I agree that I’m not very Disney, but I don’t think that Roald Dahl is a good fit for me either. When I first told people that I was doing Matilda, they thought I was either lying or needed psychiatric help. They couldn’t understand why I had been picked to do it.”
Playwright Dennis Kelly on adapting Pinocchio for the National Theatre (Telegragh)
What you said on Facebook
An actor friend tells me that at the stage door I must say “you were wonderful”, not “that was wonderful” or “I really enjoyed that”.
If a show is awful and I don’t know anyone in it, I simply don’t go back. If I think someone is especially good, I always go back and tell them – whether I know them or not.
Many of my friends are ballet dancers and one said: “I’m so glad you always come back. Otherwise we just take off our make-up and go home. It’s a real anticlimax.”
I prefer ‘actress’, because it makes things clear in casting notices. When ‘actor’ became the norm, I wasted time looking at casting notices for actors, only to discover that there were no available roles for women.
Francesca Bongiorno Fortunato
Ask people what they would like to be called and then call them that.
I find ‘actress’ old-fashioned and demeaning. This also applies to ‘manageress’, which, in a previous job, one of our charity shop managers used to refer to herself in a press release.
I think a woman can decide for herself – it’s a matter of choice. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the term ‘actress’. It’s in no way inferior to the term ‘actor’, but if a woman wishes to use ‘actor’, that’s fine too.