Oliviers reward money, not art (your views, March 16)

Noma Dumezweni, Paul Thornley and Jamie Parker in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo: Manuel Harlan
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has set a record for Olivier nominations. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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The Olivier Awards nominations are starting to feel rather ‘presidential’: the more money you throw at a production, the more likely you are to come out on top. Awards have never been a level playing field, but it seems invidious to judge artistic merit by the numbers game.

Thank goodness there are plenty of alternative ways of marking out the huge variety of work we still enjoy. But, given the regional cuts from local authorities, it’s anybody’s guess how regional theatre will fare in future.

Carole Woddis
Via thestage.co.uk

With only 23 London performances including previews, is Platonov eligible for the Olivers?

The Oliviers’ rules are opaque to the public, adding to the murk of their ‘insider’ nomination and voting system.

Kenneth Griffin
Via thestage.co.uk

Maybe JK Rowling should have negotiated her own awards ceremony and let the Oliviers reflect real theatre. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child should come under the category ‘best consumer marketing event’. Please don’t tell me there are best actors in the show – I’ve seen both bits.

Where is the nomination for the outstanding choreography for Half a Sixpence? Harry Potter gets a nod for people walking around in lines, chucking a few suitcases around, while flapping big cloaks.

The show deserves a ‘best video award’ for its clever wobbly time shift sequence, but fans of real theatre will surely weep.

Andrew Price
Via thestage.co.uk

Oxford council rejig fears

No wonder Louise Chantal and other promoters of the arts are worried about plans to shake up Oxfordshire’s councils.

In combining six authorities in one, the county council claims it will save £20 millon a year. But this is similar to the false argument that Brexit campaigners said would provide the NHS with a extra £350 million a week.

Devising a computer system that serves the needs of a population expected to reach 900,000 by 2031 will not be cheap. Nor will dismantling and reassembling the local government system, not to mention the astronomical costs of large-scale redundancies. The county is more likely to end up in the red than to have money to splurge.

Don Chapman
Eynsham

Max Wall’s comedy legacy

Contrary to what Tracy Tynan claims in her memoir, Max Wall never used anti-black and anti-Semitic jokes in his act.

For a start, Max rarely ever told jokes as such. When he starred in Cockie! at the Adelphi in December 1973 (the year he performed at Tynan’s 21st birthday at the Young Vic), he received adulatory notices. The International Herald Tribune proclaimed him “quite simply the funniest comedian in the world”.

In fact, Max was one of the first British variety artists to befriend visiting black performers such as Layton and Johnstone, and ‘Hutch’ (Leslie Hutchinson) in his early career. And Wall loved Jewish humour so much he called himself “Jewish by persuasion”.

According to his diary in 1975, Tracy Tynan’s father Kenneth called Max “a true original” in a highly complimentary review of his one-man show at the Shaw Theatre. He had certainly not changed his act by that time.

Michael Pointon
Max Wall’s biographer
Peter Charlton
Chairman, Max Wall Society
Ewan Hooper
Max Wall’s producer, Greenwich Theatre

Booking fees

I dislike the whole concept of paying a fee for the privilege of buying a ticket (‘Leeds Grand boycotted over booking fee ‘racket’ ’). Why is this fee not hidden in the price of the ticket? Surely it is good publicity to say “no booking fee”.

I know it is somewhat devious but all marketing is based on deception, anyway.

David Lewis
Via thestage.co.uk

Quotes of the week

Yael Farber

“When women no longer get ‘a day’ and black history ‘a month’ we will know we’re a fraternity and not dominated by a system ‘celebrating’ us.”
Director Yael Farber (Twitter)

“I don’t like being booed. It hurts. But the fact that we have an audience that care enough, that come and engage with the opera, and boo – I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.”
Kasper Holten, outgoing director of the Royal Opera House (Times)

“In every industry, conversations about gender equality are more alive than I can ever remember. That’s good. But the contradiction is that the financial security of the country is much more precarious. That definitely has an impact on women.”
Jude Kelly, artistic director of the Southbank Centre, on senior roles for women in the arts (Financial Times)

“Metaphor really is the most powerful instrument for art. So when Brexit happened and when Trump became president, I began to look for the classic plays that speak to this time.”
Actor and director Kwame Kwei-Armah (Guardian)

“Drama schools should be pluralising the way they think about gender.”
Director Lucy J Skilbeck (Exeunt)

“The most nervous I ever get is when I have to go and be me somewhere. If I’ve got a nice costume and some lovely lines to say, I know I’ll be all right.”
Actor Dan Stevens (Telegraph)

“I generally have a tendency to steer away from outright political discussion in interviews, because I am an actor, and there’s so much that I don’t understand, and I don’t for a second feel like I have a right to that platform… I have opinions, but I don’t think my opinions are more valid because I’m an actor and have more of a platform than others.”
Actor Gillian Anderson (Guardian)

“Verse is one of the things British theatre has totally shot itself in both feet about because we pretend there’s such a thing as ‘verse-speaking’, and people say things like ‘I didn’t think the verse-speaking was very good’, and nobody knows what that means. All text that is well written has rhythm. All this nonsense about ‘Pause at the end of every line’ that Peter Hall perpetuated in the 1960s...”
Director Robert Icke (Sunday Times)

What you said on Facebook

About Sharon D Clarke’s call to cultivate new British musicals

New writing in this country only gets paid lip service. No one is investing in new musicals, but they are the lifeblood of theatre’s future.
Shirley Jameson

Hundreds of British-written musicals never get produced. The producers don’t even try to attend the showcases.
Jane de Florez

About eating in theatres

The answer is moderation. I know theatres make lots of money through these snacks, but selling popcorn, crisps, sweets and chocolate as well as drinks is degrading to the play in question. Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with taking a bottle of water in.
Gwion Jones

I get distracted by someone in front of me constantly raising a water bottle or wine glass to their mouth, especially if the light catches it. People scraping ice-cream containers to get the last morsel out can also be distracting. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in expecting to be able to watch a play in relative silence.
Chris Murray

In noisy packaging, food should not be allowed. After all, people are only there for two hours. Will they really die of starvation?
Tracy Bodenham

This modern craze for absolute silence in the audience is disgusting. In the past, the audience was alive and the actors were professional enough to deal with it. Actors these days cry at someone eating crisps. Perhaps they are in the wrong profession.
Conrad Murray

What you said on Twitter

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