ATG boss Mark Cornell needs to look at his own theatres – your views, June 27
It’s taken Mark Cornell three years to realise: “Theatres need to look to cinemas to improve audience comfort”, arguing theatregoers are enduring “seats designed like torture instruments”.
I hope it won’t take another three years to bring the discussion on to loos, sight lines and sound. Not to mention the ongoing complaints about backstage conditions for creatives?
Mark Cornell says “For commercial theatres such as ATG, keeping theatre affordable just makes good business sense. If we want to keep growing, we need to keep attracting large audiences to our theatres.”
As a promoter, it should be noted that our £30 tickets can become a £36.50 ticket in an ATG theatre by the time ‘booking fees’, ‘restoration fees’, ‘transactions fees’ and so on are added to the ticket price. Add the inflated bar prices and it cannot be right that the theatre is making more than the person taking the risk of actually putting the show on.
Mark Cornell should start by looking at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking, the home of the ATG empire. The stalls seats are falling apart. It is time for a refurbish.
I vowed never to go to the Liverpool Empire again until it had a refurbishment, then made the mistake of going to the Palace Theatre in Manchester. The row I was on had many collapsing seats that were unbearable to sit on, so much so that I argued with the ushers to be allowed to stand at the back after the interval.
Sadly, the comfort of the seats was not the only problem with this tired ATG property, or its lacklustre customer service. Mark Cornell needs to put his own house in order before he starts lecturing the rest of the industry.
I go to many theatres and by far the worst queues at bars and kiosks are at ATG venues. One in particular that I go to regularly offers pretty dreadful customer service compared to others, so perhaps Mark Cornell should look in his own backyard.
It isn’t necessarily the staff offering the bad service (though sometimes it is), but the lack of numbers putting them under pressure.The bar prices, which are set by ATG, are outrageously high.
Lynette Linton interview a joy
What a refreshing, challenging and uplifting interview with Lynette Linton. It is inspiring to hear a theatre practitioner speak with such enthusiasm and openness about her work and aspirations. Young people reading this must feel so emboldened. Good luck to her at the Bush.
Older actors also required
It’s never too late for older artists to make a comeback. There has never been a bigger need for middle-aged or older actors. New agents are flexible and have more knowledge and expertise. As long as you can act and deliver, the world is your oyster.
Student loans need updating
The funding principle of the Department for Education when it comes to student loans is historical. It has not changed with the present time and needs. It is misplaced.
The department needs to redevelop in order to save money being wasted on degrees that remain dormant, and put the money where the skills need is desperate – apprenticeships.
Help sought for audio research
Audio description in theatres helps thousands of blind and partially sighted people to enjoy theatre every year. One of the leading AD companies in the UK, VocalEyes, is running a research project with Royal Holloway, University of London exploring audio description, and is seeking input from users of AD, describers, actors and other theatre professionals.
We are interested in people’s opinions about when and how human characteristics, such as race, disability, age, body shape or gender, should be described in our practice. Responses to the survey will feed into a report and guidelines to be published later in the year.
Matthew Cock, chief executive of VocalEyes
Professor Hannah Thompson, of Royal Holloway, University of London
You and me both, Nancy
Nancy Carroll: “I hope I’m shagging like a rabbit into my 90s.” ‘Devoutly to be wished…’ (Hamlet).
Quotes of the week
“The ancient Greeks understood that without theatre there isn’t democracy and without democracy there isn’t theatre. You can’t have a democracy unless you are actively questioning and trying to see things from other people’s perspectives. So there does seem to be a very profound role for theatre at the moment.” Playwright and director David Greig (Financial Times)
“Writing The Apology, the letter I wrote in my father’s voice, apologising for abusing me, has freed me from the last vestiges of anger, confusion, rancour and hate. It released me from a frame that had determined my life.” Playwright Eve Ensler (Guardian)
“There will always be a play by a white male writer ready to go. Because it’s already proven to be financially successful, it’s always going to be easier to do that. But if you believe representation is important and that you create more interesting theatre if you have different lived experiences challenging each other, you have to work to do that.” Donmar Warehouse artistic director Michael Longhurst (Times)
“People who go to the theatre don’t understand the extent to which the actors talk backstage about the audience. Certain types of people create one atmosphere, but the next day that can be completely different. When you’re sitting in an audience, you’re not aware of what kind of audience you are. But the actors sure know.” Actor Andrew Scott (Observer)
“We look to art to help us understand ourselves and our world, and new, normally unheard and marginalised voices enable us to look at life from unexpected angles. We are in tumultuous times where we are having to ask ourselves who we are as a society. Theatre needs to be part of that.” Director Suba Das (Observer)
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