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Boycott Peterborough’s Broadway until all creditors have been paid (your views, August 23)

Broadway Theatre in Peterborough

Peter Dawe suggests that acts visiting the Broadway Theatre “are as culpable as [its collapsed operator] Performance Art Ventures” for the failure of the theatre’s strategy (‘Ill-fated theatre in Peterborough goes bust again’, News, August 9, p1 [1]). He claimed the terms that the acts were signed on were unsustainable.

Lakin McCarthy had a very clear contract with PAV. Our terms were entirely consistent with our contracts with more than 100 theatres across the UK, Ireland and Australia for the same show. In no other instance has there been a complaint from other theatres about the deal. Indeed, we have had repeat business and delighted theatre managements and audiences from Truro to Aberdeen.

We are alarmed at the news that the Dawe Charitable Trust is taking over the sole running of the venue, as Dawe’s comments reveal his total lack of understanding of the business he is proposing to manage.

We must ask the question: is this man a fit and proper person to be running a theatre? His claim is that his areas of expertise lie in agriculture and technology.

We accept that our contract is with PAV, whose chief executive Mark Ringer was running mate for Peter Dawe’s unsuccessful bid in 2017 to become Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Lakin McCarthy calls for the entertainment industry and its professional bodies to boycott Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre until all creditors have been paid, including ex-staff, Peterborough City Council, and companies, such as Lakin McCarthy, with entirely legitimate contracts in place.

Warren Lakin
Director, Lakin McCarthy Entertainment

Decline of King’s Lynn’s Guildhall

St George’s Guildhall, King’s Lynn, may have played only a small part in my eventual career, but it was a significant one (‘Norfolk’s 15th-century theatre ‘under threat’, claim campaigners’, News, June 21, p4).

As a sixth-former at the local grammar school in the late 1950s, the move from the school hall to the Guildhall gave me the opportunity to develop my skills as a stage manager and designer – eventually leading to a professional stage career and to the study of theatre – as well as the occasional escape to Friday lunchtime concerts there.

Norfolk’s 15th-century theatre ‘under threat’, claims campaign group [2]

To read of the parlous current state of the Guildhall is certainly a matter of personal concern. However, its role in my life is insignificant compared with what is happening now.

This is a medieval building of significant architectural and cultural importance, not only because Shakespeare may have played there but because of its continuing place in theatre and performance history. It was a theatre in the 18th century, the home of Bridges the scene painters in the early 20th century and was saved by restoration as the centre of the King’s Lynn Festival.

Sadly, rather than building on this heritage, the reverse appears to be the case. It’s true that the Fermoy Galleries were developed in buildings attached to the Guildhall and the venue hosted performances by local amateur groups, notably the King’s Lynn Players and St George’s Players.

I suggested to the late Lady Fermoy the idea of developing a theatre company based at the Guildhall after leaving the Everyman, Cheltenham, in the late 1960s, but that never came to fruition.

Yet my research shows that in the intervening years there has been little opportunity for the people of King’s Lynn and its west Norfolk and fenland hinterland to see much in the way of professional theatre. While the stage is limiting, the Guildhall would be a good venue for small-scale touring.

Indeed, a case could be made for recreating the 18th-century theatre. Whatever happens, the future of the Guildhall must take account of its artistic and cultural role, as well as securing its architectural heritage.

The National Trust, which owns the building, clearly has a role to play. However, it seems to have been somewhat lax in its oversight.

Roland Metcalf
Visiting fellow in performance, University of Salford

Covers must be announced

Replacements or understudies – whatever you want to call them – are a fact of life (‘Give our covers due credit, say West End stars’, News, August 16, p1). In live performances, from a solo actor to leading soprano in a large-scale opera, they are unavoidable.

Give understudies due credit, say West End stars [3]

But they must be clearly announced to the audience. It’s no good assuming it doesn’t matter or can be fudged.

I’ve had some good and some not so good experiences watching more than 60 years of live performances but, having paid my money and turned up, I want to hear the truth if something has changed.

Tony Glenville
Via thestage.co.uk

Remembering Bernard Hepton

I was sad to read of the death of Bernard Hepton (Obituaries, August 9, p47). For all actors, the passing of a great performer is a matter of regret, but for one or two of us this was a more significant event.

Obituary: Bernard Hepton – ‘character actor of versatility and distinction’ [4]

Bernard was the first student at Bradford’s Northern Theatre School and probably a founder member of Esme Church’s Northern Children’s Theatre. Bernard was there in 1948 and I followed in 1954.

Are Edward Petherbridge and I now the only Northern Theatre School graduates still working?

Peter Charlton

Email address supplied

Quotes of the week

Peter Brook. Photo: Regis d'Audeville
Peter Brook. Photo: Regis d’Audeville

“Theatre can look so promising, but prove so deadly – like someone you’re initially glad to meet who then starts droning on and on. That comfortable middle-class theatre – and the opera – where people go to sleep or to have a nice chat.” – Peter Brook (Telegraph)

“That 13-year-old kid struggling with their sexual identity WILL care. It will make a huge difference to them and it would make a difference to that openly gay actor who would never get seen for a straight part and sees the few gay parts going to [straight] actors too.” – Equity LGBT+ Committee on Jack Whitehall playing Disney’s first openly gay character (Twitter)

“What is it that draws you to the craft? At this age, I don’t know anymore. I’ve kind of had enough. If I’m being brutally honest, I want to go on with my life.” – Tom Hardy on acting (Esquire)

“I’ve been coming into rehearsals wearing trousers and T-shirts and no make-up. I don’t have to display my femininity – I don’t need to display it. Getting into the character and confidence of a man makes you think, why do I actually do that? Why do I want to wear heels?” – Actor Charity Wakefield on playing William Shakespeare at the Globe (Evening Standard)

“For the well-being of the country as a whole it’s essential that our main institutions – law, the arts, medicine and the government – reflect our diversity, not our inequality. But a meritocracy doesn’t happen of itself; it needs intervention at a higher level. It needs funding and quotas – positive action, for want of a better term.” – Actor Eddie Marsan (Guardian)

“I literally never got a theatre job I applied for. Not a single job, scheme, prize or award. I self-produced, worked with dope folk, made some cool shit. I’m 34 years old and being associate director of @youngvictheatre is the first job I’ve ever ‘got’. #ShareYourRejections” – Director Nadia Latif (Twitter)

“I reckon there’s not a single new writing theatre in the UK that hasn’t rejected one or more of my scripts at some point. Currently sat in @NationalTheatre rehearsal room, eight days away from my Olivier debut. Worth sticking it out.” – Playwright Chris Bush (Twitter)

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