Here’s how we can improve diversity at the fringe (your views, September 7)
Regarding Matthew Xia’s piece on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (‘Invisible in Edinburgh: why are BAME people ignored at the fringe?’, Opinion, August 31). My experience as a brown guy at the fringe was that folk of different races accepted flyers from me – so there is hope.
However, most fringe casts I encountered were middle class and white. There is ample room for improving diversity, which will enhance the quality of the fringe.
What every show needs is a community of support – people who get what you’re doing and who act as effective cheerleaders for your show.
Perhaps, like me, you know people interested in progressive social change, but who do not see theatre as their ‘thing’. We need to recruit these friends to our communities of support. Achieving social change is not easy, but if we work together and persist, that change will come.
Pay actresses to achieve equality
I read your article on new all-female Shakespeare company Dangerous Space with great interest (‘All-female company launches with 36 actors’, News, August 17, p5).
While I respect the aims of the young women behind the project, I fail to see how the ‘opportunity’ to participate in a year of unpaid workshops from a hypothetical company with no funding, no rehearsal space and only a hazy idea of putting on plays in the distant future is going to benefit the participants.
To increase gender equality in theatre, we need to stop teaching young actors they should work for free, or give up a year of their lives to do workshops in the hopes of employment, and start creating more paid jobs for women. There are all-female shows on the fringe circuit that actually pay their actors. Perhaps we should be giving them credit and attention, not giving free PR for an idea that has yet to come to fruition?
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Honour founder of King’s Head
T Patmore is correct (‘King’s Head tribute’, Letters, August 24). The King’s Head Theatre should be renamed the Dan Crawford Theatre – especially as it’s moving out of the King’s Head pub to the post office next door.
Crawford’s mad, inspirational genius should be remembered and honoured.
Don’t applaud rude stars
How sad that Nick Smurthwaite’s “favourite anecdote” from the book on the Ivy Restaurant is a highly paid star belittling a lowly paid waiter simply carrying out his (legal) responsibilities by asking a customer not to smoke indoors after the ban was introduced (‘Celebrating 100 years of Theatreland’s star spot’, Archive, August 10).
Hilarious I’m sure, unless you are on the receiving end? Friends from the BBC have told me how Jimmy Savile would give the same response to putting his cigars out in contempt of fire safety regulations and junior staff whose job it was to inform visitors.
A tragic reflection on ‘status’ and presumably fully supported and condoned by Smurthwaite, or why make particular mention of it? A favourite anecdote? Really? It cheapened and spoiled an otherwise interesting and very informative article and lessens all at The Stage by printing it.
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Proms shine on BBC
The television broadcasts from the Royal Albert Hall promenade concerts have been first class, with the superb production of Oklahoma! at the top of the list. The John Wilson Orchestra led a fine collection of singers, dancers, actors and musicians in a night to remember with his recreation of this classic show.
As the credits came up – far too fast – the audience members were willing to stay longer, but we had a terrific three hours.
Brymore Close, Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL52
Quote of the week
“I’ve never understood how a lot of the people who talk about the need for everything to be accessible will also be champions of work that is accessible only to those who have trained tastes. If you look at West End audiences for musical theatre, you will find they are much more varied in terms of social background than the state-funded theatre and opera audiences. So there is a paradox in all this.”
Director Dominic Cooke (Times)
“The acting profession is like a refugee camp; so many people are on the run from race, class, sexuality, finding a place where they can be themselves more truly than they could before.”
Actor Juliet Stevenson (Telegraph)
“I don’t travel well. The two times when I should have gone to America, with Oklahoma! and A Little Night Music, they didn’t take to me, and I haven’t got a film face. I’ve been lucky, and I’m good, but I’m not in anybody’s clique. Because it is about the right circles.”
Actor Maureen Lipman on not having an international profile (Financial Times)
“I can go into film with the reassurance that I’ve carved out a home in the theatre. Just because I have that doesn’t mean I have to be there every day. That’s a soul place I can always return to, and have an immense gratification working on great literature. When you’re young you’re hungry all the time, but now I know that’s not going to go away.”
Director Benedict Andrews on moving into film (Independent)
“The time for gender-neutral casting is now. Why should an outward label dictate who best embodies a character? Doctor Who casting a female doctor is well overdue. Let’s hope this spurs on even more progress.”
Actor Anna Martine Freeman, talking at a Beyond the Binary workshop at the Bush Theatre in London
“I auditioned for things where I knew I killed the audition. I knew I did. It was, like, ‘Oh, should I give you my sizes now, or . . . ?’ And they would call up and say: ‘We just don’t think that a doctor would look like that.’”
Actor Christina Hendricks on body image in the entertainment industry (Times)
“We are delighted by [Tamsin Greig’s] vote of confidence in the project at this stage. She is a theatre beast, so she will hit the ground running. You can’t always control events and this week has been a good example of that.”
James Graham on Tamsin Greig stepping in after Sarah Lancashire pulled out of his new play Labour of Love (Observer)
What you said on Facebook…
In the corporate world at least, most employers are unwilling to divulge what they are really looking for when recruiting. The equal opportunities form can be used to screen out the people who they will not interview.
Jane de Florez
Really sad to read this in 2017. I worked for the equality team in a bank in the early 1990s and remember making the same observation when monitoring forms were first being championed.
About Matthew Xia’s opinion piece asking why BAME people are ignored at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe…
I found this article interesting as a British-Filipino performer at the fringe this year. I found it difficult to strike up conversation with any (particularly white) people while flyering on the mile, contrasting with my castmates who would at least be allowed to begin their pitch. I switched from my standard RP accent to my best Scottish and immediately got far more responses. Not something my castmates had to do. Still reflecting on what this all pointed to. I didn’t feel I was sharing the space with many people like me up there.
Sad and annoying that actors, who should know better, behave this way. Then again, the fringe is populated, in my opinion, with a high number of amateur companies, where the ego and ignorance are king. So take it as a blessing that one is saved from wasting time watching a lot of shallow productions. Time for a BAME fringe festival, perhaps?