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Common sense prevails as Billy Elliot returns to Hungary (your views, October 18)

A scene from the UK tour of Billy Elliot. Photo: Alastair Muir A scene from the 2016 UK tour of Billy Elliot. Photo: Alastair Muir
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As a fan, having attended 201 performances of Billy Elliot the Musical across Europe, I was dumbstruck to learn that the show was closed abruptly in Hungary earlier this year (‘Homophobic attack on Billy Elliot in Hungary is a stark warning for us all’, Opinion, July 12, 2018).

But visiting Budapest last week, I called in at the Erkel Theatre to commiserate and maybe remonstrate but was pleasantly surprised to be told it will be back in 2019 at the Erkel Theatre in June and the Opera House in July.

Thank goodness for the behind-the-scenes efforts to secure this common sense solution.

John Woods

Not everyone learns lines fast

As an actor who is dyslexic, I recently experienced the age old problem of receiving a script two nights before an audition. I understand that rewrites can push things down to the wire and that producers have other things on their mind. I also understand that casting directors have other priorities.

But from the actors’ perspective, please understand that many of us have dull daytime jobs to pay the bills, so the time you’ve given us has already been cut in half. We, as actors, want to give the best audition we can – we may not have had one for a month. I say this because I’ve been grumbled at in my time for not learning my lines.

Having dyslexia means that learning lines under pressure is nigh on impossible for me. Dyslexia is a condition that is different for everyone. Some people see words moving about on a page, while others just have trouble sight-reading. All I’m asking is for some understanding. Most casting directors are supportive and don’t pressure you to learn lines, but others are not.

Name and address supplied

Courting controversy

Anthony Neilson claims that “Twitter is dangerous for theatre” (News, October 11).

’Twitter is dangerous for theatre’, playwright Anthony Neilson claims

It’s not as if traditional forms of media (including The Stage) are averse to espousing opinions and commentary that deliberately misunderstand people and contribute to a binary culture.

Actually, there are many playwrights and creatives who aren’t guiltless of that either.

Frank Browne
Via thestage.co.uk

Group ticket booking woes…

I have organised coach and rail trips to London and the north for the past 32 years and I am disappointed that nobody has raised the question of group theatre prices in the West End.

I received a brochure from Group Line offering tickets for Tina Turner the Musical with group booking prices of £46 at evening performances, Monday to Thursday, if they were paid for by January 2019.

However, there are no group booking discounts for matinees. This is shameful.

Mike Holt
Email address supplied

… and tricky single tickets

Recently, I tried to book a single ticket for a performance of The Jungle through the Love Theatre website. It allowed me to pick an isolated single ticket (of which there was a choice of one on the performance I wanted to go to) but prevented me choosing any seat that had another available next to it.

Isn’t this unfair to anyone who is coming to the theatre alone? I would have thought that theatres would want to encourage people to come whenever they can.

When I reported this problem via email, I was told it was not possible to book a single ticket in this way as “it isn’t possible to override the system”.

Apart from the Orwellian feel to this, isn’t it plain discrimination? I understand why producers and venues might want to preserve double seats on a commercial basis but it seems unfair to me.

Dave Bond
Email address supplied

Beware inverted snobbery

When asked to speak to students at Eton, Eileen Atkins (Big Interview, October 4) refused, because “they have everything handed to them”. She added: “Why should I put myself out for those boys?”

Eileen Atkins: ‘I don’t like filming, I went into the business for theatre’

Then trumpeting her ‘good deeds’ to the world, Atkins boasted: “So I went and gave a talk at a comprehensive instead.”

If she was trying to demonstrate her egalitarianism, she failed miserably. All Atkins has done is demonstrate her inverted snobbery. Perhaps the Eton boys had a lucky escape.

Patrick R Delaney

Ripe for revival

I fully agree with Graham Tubb (Letters, September 6): it would be great to have seasons of Ivor Novello musicals as well as Noel Coward ones.

I seem to remember that when Andrew Lloyd Webber refurbished the Palace Theatre (before selling it to Nimax in 2012), he said he would put on Novello’s musicals.

Here’s hoping.

Bill Ayres

Quotes of the week

Rebecca Frecknall. Photo: Mark Douet

“Working as a freelance director can often be stressful, high-pressured and uncertain. Managing my anxiety has become an essential part of my professional life and I have found taking my physical well-being seriously has a direct and positive effect on my mental health.” – Director Rebecca Frecknall (Evening Standard)

“Being an artistic director of a building is tough, because it is so demanding: it is round the clock. You can’t have a private life; you have to be wedded to the theatre. It’s terribly paid, so who’s going to pay for childcare? That’s why a lot of women aren’t doing it. It has to be rethought.” – Director Marianne Elliott (Financial Times)

“When I was in my 20s I was obsessed by Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina – all these bad women that literature loves to watch slowly die. Fuck that. I’m not going to devote any more time to killing another tragic woman. We’re done with that.” – Director Emma Rice (Telegraph)

“One of the most moving things has been seeing men and women my age and older talking about gender, their reaction to the shifts on the stage and having difficult conversations – who can get their head around it and who can’t. But if it is providing a conversation, that’s good.” – Director Erica Whyman on gender-swapping roles on stage (Times)

“The Jungle is a defining moment in my career. I couldn’t produce it in the West End if I didn’t have 20 years of experience behind me. It’s a defining moment because if I can’t do that type of work alongside all the rest of it, I don’t want to do my job.” – Producer Sonia Friedman (Financial Times)

“Diversity isn’t about ‘making the cast various types of people’. It’s about creating a culture where theatre is an affordable choice.” – Playwright Luke Barnes (Twitter)

“I don’t know any actors that have had an easy time, but it’s easier if you have the money. To be able to pay your rent and eat and stay in the business [as an actor from a working-class background] is impossible.” – Actor, Maxine Peake (speaking at the UK Theatre Awards)

“There’s a debate about access into our industry and it’s about action; all of our major theatres need to be walking the walk, not just talking the talk. My parents are immigrants and came to this country with very little and had to strive. There’s still an ease for certain people with certain backgrounds to progress in this industry. It’s starting to get better but we can do more.” – Actor Ashley Zhangazha (speaking at the UK Theatre Awards)

Email your views to alistair@thestage.co.uk Please mark your email as ‘for publication’. The Stage reserves the right to edit letters for publication.

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