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Celebrating stage managers (your views, October 19)

Photo: Anna Baburkina/Shutterstock
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As your online story observed (‘Theatre staff celebrate International Stage Management Day 2017’, thestage.co.uk, October 10), our annual celebration of stage managers has become a global phenomenon.

This year, #StageMgrs17 trended in London and the UK, reaching 5.5 million people – plus many other messages were shared on social media with different tags.

We made contact with colleagues in Korea, US, Australia and around the world, as well as the UK and Ireland. The hashtag may have been seen as many as 13.3 million times on Twitter alone, in many other languages – this year including Japanese and Haitian for the first time.

International Stage Management Day reaches more young people than ever (also using Instagram and other platforms) with highly significant engagement from secondary schools and colleges. Take-overs of theatres’ social media feeds also reach audiences – and potential audiences – far and wide.

At a time when, as the The Stage’s editor has commented, teaching of the arts in schools is a matter of concern and public funding of professional theatre is under threat, it’s vital that we celebrate this promotion of backstage work and our world-class theatre and live events in the UK.

We offer our thanks to the many thousands of colleagues who got involved and made International Stage Management Day their day again in 2017 – the most successful yet.

Andy Rowley
Executive director
Stage Management Association

Folie de grandeur?

How gracious of Mike Laughton (who?) to acknowledge that Follies contains “a couple of good numbers” (Letters, October 12).

What a pity that he couldn’t be equally gracious about such a stunning production of one of the most acclaimed musicals of the 20th century.

He rightly states the National Theatre should produce “new works by British writers and composers” – which is exactly what it did in 1999 when it presented what he dismisses as “some travesty called “Honk!”. If memory serves, that show was awarded the Olivier for best new musical and set Stiles and Drew on the way to well-deserved success.

If Mr Sondheim is indeed a multi-millionaire (though it’s unclear how Mr Laughton is privy to this information), then good for him – he’s a genius.

Steve Liversedge
Clacton-on-Sea

A question of interpretation

It’s ridiculous that Hackney Empire has cancelled the touring production Golden Dragon.

Does Shylock always have to be played by a Jew? Was Placido Domingo being racist when he sang Otello? Should that role always go to an Arab or a Muslim?

Is a female playing King Lear sexist, as the role was clearly written for a man? Must all the Japanese roles in Madam Butterfly always be played by Japanese opera singers? Must Macbeth always be played by a Scot?

How far will this nonsense go before common sense prevails?

Phil Russell
Via thestage.co.uk

Discomfort in the royal circle

Regarding your poll (‘Should more West End theatres prioritise audience comfort over seating capacity?’), tickets are expensive and audience behaviour is at an all-time low. Is this in part due to the audience being uncomfortable?

When I went to a recent performance of Young Frankenstein, my royal circle seats were too narrow and offered poor legroom. Audience members were not only arriving 20 minutes after the start, but at least three people got up to go to the loo before the interval, disrupting the audience each time. To top this, the person behind me spilt a glass of wine down my back.

Profits at the box office and bar should not come before audience comfort in theatres – otherwise they may not attract high-paying audiences for much longer.

Maureen Reeves
Via thestage.co.uk

Quotes of the week

Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl, one of the shows available on ATG's new ticket site for students. Photo: Johan PerssonSheridan Smith in Funny Girl. Photo: Johan Persson

“I had one audition where this woman went: ‘Can you do RP?’ I must have looked blank because she then asked: ‘Do you know what that stands for?’ And I said: ‘Right posh?’ I remember her saying: ‘Well, it kind of does.’ But people seemed willing to take a chance on me. I was lucky like that.”
Performer Sheridan Smith (Sunday Times)

“In our major parties, more treachery abounds than might furnish a Shakespearean history play – our institutions are in profound crisis. At best, drama on stage or screen enables us to go backstage on the real events that buffet us daily.”
Playwright Steve Waters (Evening Standard)

“I played King Lear in my second year. But in the real world I was never going to play those roles. Outside RADA, those opportunities weren’t open to actors of colour. Leading roles were rare, particularly on television. I quickly had to adjust my sails for shallower waters. It was immensely frustrating, since I knew I was capable of much more. But my blackness had trumped my talent.”
Actor David Harewood (Guardian)

“I say to my assistants and the people I mentor: ‘Keep at it.’ It’s really hard, and it’s a slog, and I lived off baked beans for 10 years. It is a really tough profession, but you’ve just got to keep going and one day it just changes.”
Designer Jon Bausor speaking at the UK Theatre Awards

“This award is a positive appreciation of a human being playing a part. So many people came to see me after the show, and said, ‘When you first walked on stage I didn’t quite understand, but five minutes into it I totally believed it’, and that’s the magic of theatre. We’ll always have further to go and its not just to do with colour, but I’m celebrating – at the moment so many things are changing.”
Best supporting actress winner Sharon Duncan-Brewster at the UK Theatre Awards

“My sense of humour is my sense of humour. It was always like the ocean – sometimes it stank and was terrible, sometimes it was great and glorious.”
Film-maker Mel Brooks (Time Out)

“Over the past century, musical theatre has become separate from pop, but what we’ve done is quite old-fashioned: we’ve just put songs people listen to into a story. If it feels new and fresh, it’s not, but we’re thrilled people have responded so positively.”
Writer Tom MacRae on Everybody’s Talking About Jamie winning best musical at the UK Theatre Awards

What you said on Facebook

About theatres prioritising comfort over seating capacity…

It’s a hard one. Tickets are outrageously expensive already. Reduced capacity will just put prices up. Also, I don’t understand why seats with restricted views still exist. Don’t they defeat the object?
Calum Darroch

About Mark Shenton’s column about whether the theatre industry will name abusers in the wake of accusations about Harvey Weinstein

Will The Stage name them? I suspect the fear of expensive legal action is too great – I’m not defending our fawning media but our strict libel laws protect the guilty as well as the innocent.
Paul Lewis

About tickets for Hamilton being reallocated after the show’s opening was delayed…

The whole process has been a joke – I’ve ended up in a top-price seat when I paid for a low-price one. When tickets are refunded, they are going back on sale on the website, not being offered to those affected.
Rochelle Biss

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