Letters of the week
Theatre staff need Sundays
I write regarding Equity’s subsidised repertory theatre agreement, which sees actors and stage managers set for a £1 million nationwide pay boost but allows the current premium for a Sunday performance – £56.50 – to be reduced to £35.
This is bad news for pretty much everyone, and will have a massive impact on family life for members for a very long time to come.
For those who only see their family on Sundays when there’s no show and no school, it will mean we will now have to choose between taking jobs and seeing those we love. There are more important things than money, and we will never get Sundays back. It was a poor trade-off.
Drama school audition fees
Am I alone in thinking that a drama school that charges £45 or more for an audition/interview, which lasts no longer than 15 minutes before they wave you goodbye, is bordering on fraudulent practice? Prospective students may also incur substantial costs (even greater than the audition fee) in travelling to and from the venue. Where is the morality in this?
Name and email address supplied
Restricted hearing seats
I would hope a majority of theatre producers would consider the requirement for all audience members to be able to clearly hear the lyrics of a sung-through musical absolutely essential.
Sadly, the producers of Rent at London’s St James Theatre do not agree, based on the response I received after seeking a refund for the party I had booked in the front row for its final preview on December 12, where the speakers were positioned behind the first few rows of the auditorium, while the band was amplified from the stage itself. Throughout all the loud numbers, lip-reading became essential. This was in total contrast to The Last Five Years a month earlier where we were similarly seated and every word was crystal clear.
Having seen Rent in many incarnations and from various locations, front to rear, I have never previously experienced any difficulty making out what was being sung.
The representative of the producers, while admitting awareness of the issues, dismissed them as something to be expected during a preview period, even though the Evening Standard’s review on December 14 noted “the over enthusiastic band here drowns out too many of the lyrics”, so the issue was seemingly unresolved by the opening night. I was told the producers did not feel a refund was in order because the five of us had stayed for the whole performance – instead a single bottle of wine next visit was offered. To suggest leaving is both insulting to us as audience members, having paid to travel from various locations after booking six months earlier, and to the cast itself, who surely would be upset to find the front few rows depleted after the interval.
This leads me to conclude that seats where sound is unfit for purpose need to be clearly marked in the same way as where the stage is obscured, ie as “restricted hearing only”.
Arise, Sir Ken
My chuckle muscles are working overtime. I’m so thrilled that at long last Ken Dodd has got the recognition that he so rightly deserves (‘Mark Rylance and Ken Dodd knighted in New Year honours list’, news, January 5). He has been making us all laugh for decades, and long may he continue… and so say all of us. Our congratulations, Sir Ken.
Palladium panto wanted Whoopi
How sad that your theatre critic should criticise Jonathan Kiley and the casting team “in these times of diversity” not having any artists of colour in the Palladium panto line-up (Review, December 15). His negotiations with Whoopi Goldberg fell through when her family decided she should be with them at Christmas (she was a potential fairy).