Ensemble theatre might produce great results, but it isn’t for everybody (your views, September 13)
Having read James Brining’s column with reference to the Dundee Rep company, as an actress who lives locally, I’d like to make a few points.
While acknowledging the quality and endeavour of this company and fully appreciating the positive benefits to the actors and to the local community, it has now been up and running for almost 20 years, so I have to say that it has not been a company that serves well the wider world of actors. If it took place in a country with a tradition of this sort, then all actors would enjoy the same opportunities, playing some of the best roles ever written and having the same level of security that permanent employment affords.
Having moved from the south to bring up a family in my own backyard, so to speak, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to play certain roles, or at least be seen for them. On the rare occasions I have approached the management about auditioning for key parts in two major musicals, I was told that the leading roles would be cast from within.
With reference to his current tenure in Leeds, James mentions the “brilliant opportunity to experience the joy of an ensemble company, for a year at least”. Well, I agree that is something that will benefit many, as actors rarely have the chance any more to experience anything resembling a repertory system, which was such a wonderful grounding for so many of us. But that used to involve a season or two, or a few consecutive plays; not a contract without end.
Having said all this, and without any sour grapes, I’ll be heading down to Dundee next week to see The Yellow on the Broom, which I’m sure will be up to its usual high standard.
Kiln Theatre renaming row
Isn’t a major part of the problem the fact that the theatre management has refused to explain how consultation on the name change with audiences, practitioners and local residents is supposed to have taken place, the methodology used and the actual results?
In April, we were told extensive consultation had been undertaken, but no evidence was provided, so it looks like an arbitrary decision taken without regard to wider views. This failure undermines the theatre’s credibility in claiming to have received support from those who care about the venue.
If the current board wants to counter this scepticism, the least it can do is publish the research and prove who was asked, what they were asked and what reactions were received. If there was overwhelming support for ditching ‘the Tricycle’ and replacing it with ‘the Kiln’, then the board has nothing to fear from publishing the results.
Leave the name alone. I love the name Tricycle. Kiln sounds like pottery rather than a theatre. Some people like change just for the sake of it. Change does not necessarily mean better.
I don’t mind the change. Having gone through a similar process when we changed our name from Black Theatre Co-operative to Nitro, the one thing I learnt was that, after about 18 months, it will feel as though the new name had always been there and a new generation of attendees will not question what it used to be called. At the same time, the loyal audience will do what it has always done: go there because of the work. And that is all that matters.
Offering actors a chance to shine
With much debate these days about the lack of diversity in productions for stage, TV, film, etc, it’s not helped by many actors who feel, for example, that a period drama would only select white males and is therefore not worth the effort to audition.
My latest work about the true story and events that established the LGBTQ and civil rights movement in 1930s Britain led by the inspiring Kath Duncan has gone out of its way to encourage people of colour, women, LGBTQ and disabled actors to audition for a role. The play could be cast as all-female, for example. However, this sector of the acting profession is not applying for the roles that not only pay above Equity rates, but also offer the chance to be in a truly original production the like of which has not been staged in London before.
New writers offer new opportunities for actors to shine. I hope reading this, actors will come forward via The Stage Castings website and search for the ‘Liberty play’ listing and audition. The full playbook can be read free of charge on Amazon Kindle.
Producer of Red Blouse Theatre and author of Liberty
Email address supplied
Quote of the Week
“I’m a Shakespeare fan, but I think there’s too much Shakespeare getting staged. I feel like we’re seeing the same actors all the time. There’s a lot of playing it safe. And getting more people into theatre who haven’t been in theatre before is really important.” – Playwright Anna Jordan (Guardian)
“Just been to another risible play at the state-funded Almeida. It ended with a group of adult women (pretending to be sub-teens) shouting about their pussies. Review to run on Friday. Maybe.” – Daily Mail critic Quentin Lets on Dance Nation (Twitter)
“Dance Nation @AlmeidaTheatre Get your pussies down there. I loved it.” – Critic Lyn Gardner (Twitter)
“Um, no, I didn’t. #whowritesthisshite? #whatthefuckisanalkalinediet?” – Actor Keeley Hawes in response to claims she lost weight for the BBC’s Bodyguard (Twitter)
“This process was never done on a whim. We’re a new building, we’re a new period in time. It’s a way of attracting new audiences and new people. Thirty percent of our ticket sales are made by people coming to our theatre for the first time.” – Kiln Theatre artistic director Indhu Rubasingham (Telegraph)
“I know that you can’t please all the people all of the time and it would have been naive to think that there wouldn’t have been some resistance, but how sad to see people who claim to love the theatre attempt to rally local people against it.” – WhatsOnStage chief operating officer and Kiln Theatre board member Sita McIntosh on the campaign for the venue to revert to its original name, the Tricycle (WhatsOnStage)
“This is quite the most uplifting piece of new British musical theatre I have ever had the privilege to watch.” – Critic Fiona Mountford in her review of Six (Evening Standard)
“I have loved all the people I have been with, but I realised I am rather hopeless at being in a couple, and if I am in love with anything now it’s my work.” – Playwright Bryony Lavery (Observer)