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Students must be first priority for drama school league tables (your views, May 18)

Equity plans to overhaul its student membership scheme. Photo: Christian Bertrand/shutterstock
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It is good news that Equity and Spotlight have moved to fill the gap left by the demise of Drama UK (‘Spotlight and Equity change graduate criteria, News, May 8).

As Equity and Spotlight move forward, they should put pressure on CCSkills to take down the Drama UK webpage. This page states that the organisation was “a united, public voice for vocational training in the UK”. However, it does not give a comprehensive picture of drama schools in the sector.

It mentions only those who were willing to pay it for accreditation and makes no mention of the Dance and Drama Award Scheme, which fully supports drama students with grants to train here and at other schools. As such, it is unhelpful to students looking for funded vocational drama training.

Let us hope that Spotlight and Equity do not see this as an opportunity to increase revenue from expanding student membership. Their problem, as ever, is ensuring that students who wish to train for the profession are protected from the many courses that promise vocational training but fail to deliver.

George Peck
Principal, Oxford School of Drama

Ticket price transparency

John B Hulbert should not hold his breath waiting for a response to his letter asking the reason or whereabouts of the “restoration fee” (your views, May 11). For many years I have asked this question to no avail.

Someone, somewhere is making money, so in true politico fashion, it must surely be going to a good cause.

Robert Breckman
Breckman and Co, chartered accountants

Companies that operate by a percentage of the box office revenue do not receive the full amount. This is because all the extra ticket charges are siphoned off first, before calculating the percentage to pay the company.

M Lightfoot

At least restoration fees show where the extra money charged is going.

Theatres could increase the price of each ticket to accommodate the additional fee without explaining it to their audience. However, I would rather understand where the money is going when ticket prices increase. It helps to demonstrate that the restoration fee covers the cost of refurbishment rather than boost profits.

This transparency can only be a good thing.

Jack Dryden
Via thestage.co.uk

Diversity is not just about BAME

While I applaud The Stage’s research (‘East 15 tops list of most diverse drama schools’ (News, May 4), it would also have been useful to know how many black, Asian and minority ethnic applicants each school received.

East 15 has had a reputation for welcoming everyone since it opened. Race, age and appearance are ignored at the audition – a ‘spark’ of potential is the priority.

I also wonder what director Jenny Sealey of Graeae made of this report. Recently I saw Northern Broadsides’ production of Richard III with disabled actor Mat Fraser in the title role. It was well worth the trip, with Fraser’s excellent performance ably supported by those of Dean Whatton, Ben Wright and Flo Wilson – a truly diverse cast.

In the same edition of The Stage, it was reported that The Braille Legacy does not have a single blind or partially sighted actor in the cast (News, May 11, p3). Yet there are blind performers with suitable training: for example, in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, Jazzer is played by blind actor Ryan Kelly, who trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Other prominent disabled performers include Cherylee Houston, who plays Izzy in Coronation Street and trained at the Arden School of Theatre in Manchester. And D/deaf actors Caroline Parker and Joseph Mawle are enjoying successful careers on stage and screen. Campaigners such as Equity’s Mik Scarlet have worked hard to ensure access and inclusion for disabled people remain on the agenda.

Now the onus is on drama school principals, agents, casting directors, producers and directors to take the lead. When working towards diversity, we should not consider only BAME performers as we try to reflect the full spectrum of society.

Doremy Vernon
Email address supplied

Quotes of the week

Sharon D Clarke. Photo: Marc Brenner

“As a musical theatre actress, a lot of the work I do is American. I would like to see more British musicals that are multiracial. I don’t always want to be telling the American perspective. We have been here long enough to have our own stories”
Sharon D Clarke (WhatsOnStage)

“Members of the young generation are as confident listening to grime as they are watching documentaries on Youtube or teaching themselves philosophy on Tumblr. We have a generation who for the first time don’t have to wait for permission from their parents or teachers to learn, so I think our theatres have to somehow respect that.”
Rob Drummer, artistic director at Boundless Theatre, speaking at The Student Guide to Writing: Playwriting Book Launch and Play Reading at London’s Bush Theatre

“Watching 30-year-old actors struggling to understand that terrible time is moving for me. It makes me proud the play can be a memento mori and a historical record.”
Playwright Tony Kushner on the Aids crisis portrayed in Angels in America (Observer)

“Watching Eurovision makes us so thankful film and theatre awards are completely free of politics and toadyism and are based solely on talent.”
Theatre bookseller Samuel French (Twitter)

“I did try tap and ballet when I was eight or nine, but then I did it for a few weeks and just said no — it filled me with dread that I had to go. I was, like, ‘What if my mates find out?’”
Performer Danny Mac on learning to dance (Sunday Times)

“Dancers’ bodies are a museum in themselves. They archive, store and pass on movement: you can’t stage a Trisha Brown work without her dancers. Dance history was built on 10,000 gestures, 10,000 people, not just the five greatest names of the 20th century. It’s a collective movement.”
Choreographer Boris Charmatz (Financial Times)

“The star system has done a lot of damage to opera. When the stars dictate repertoire, we start getting not very good operas. And when the economy of theatre starts to need those stars, they have an unhealthy amount of power because of their box office draw.”
Opera director Graham Vick (Telegraph)

What you said on Facebook

About the launch of ‘affordable’ new drama school North 8…

It’s still in London, which is too expensive for most people to live in. If you’re going to provide a service like this, a campus outside the capital needs to be considered, because London is not affordable.
Daneka Etchells

About the TV broadcast of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III…

I loved it and was very moved at the end. It made me think how close modern times are to Shakespearean plays and reminded me of Richard II – it even had the Kensington Palace ghosts. It’s so sad that Tim Pigott-Smith is no longer around and I wish I had seen this at the theatre.
Myette Godwyn

I did not enjoy it – too forced. We need straight modern drama on TV, not this modern Hamlet, to impress the public.
Val Chapman Smith

About singing experts’ criticism of drama school vocal training…

I totally agree. It’s also important to appreciate the colour of singers’ voices, not just whether they can reach all the notes.
David Morrison

About plans to stage Richard III in Leicester Cathedral…

Shakespeare’s play was deliberate propaganda against Richard, and very pro-Tudor, for his queen. It paints him in a horrendous and untruthful light. Is it not bad enough that Richard is buried in that cathedral?
Sophie Mort

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