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Don’t charge shows for reviews – critics should be paid for by the publisher (your views, June 13)

Edinburgh Festival Fringe – website Mumble is charging shows at the fringe for its reviews. Photo: Lou Armor/Shutterstock
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Reviewers are supposed to be employees of the publisher. Mumble is using the writers’ work to get traffic, which is monetisable. It’s incredible how app developers and tech companies seem to want all the benefits of being a company, but none of the responsibilities.

Craig Francis
Via thestage.co.uk

‘Exploitative’ website under fire for charging to review Edinburgh Fringe shows

Does London’s Royal Court, for example, pay the Guardian for its reviews? No, it doesn’t, because a reviewer should be impartial and their expenses should be paid by the publication for which they review.

Dan Hewitt
Via thestage.co.uk

This is a discussion that arts journalism needs to have, given the growing lack of coverage.

The Stage itself says it relies on revenue from readers to survive: “Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.”

So I guess this proposal is just the opposite. Instead of putting the burden on the reader, it’s putting it on the production company.

I’m interested to see how this discussion pans out.

Matthew Jackson
Via Facebook

Don’t tamper with tax relief

Touring producers should not benefit from theatre tax relief unless using union contracts – Equity

In response to your story that Equity will lobby for Theatre Tax Relief to be denied to commercial touring producers not using union agreements: while Equity’s aim to support its members is entirely laudable, I would strongly caution against lobbying for any restrictions to TTR.

The legislation is working brilliantly and supports touring and non-touring productions produced by commercial and charitable companies across the UK providing increased employment within the industry.

However, we should not be complacent in thinking that TTR could not be withdrawn. Governments and their ministers change, as do their priorities. Any suggestion of withdrawing the relief in certain circumstances could lead the way to further reductions or ultimately the removal of the legislation.

If this were to happen, it would be to the detriment of everyone within the industry.

Graham Suggett
Creative Tax Reliefs Limited

Offstage career development

Ken’s Network was set up in 2018 in memory of the late Ken Bennett-Hunter, with whom I had the privilege of co-editing the Backstage section of The Stage for seven years.

There is already great work being done to honour his backstage writing career. But one of Ken’s other particular strengths was his ability to provide useful feedback, pointers and connections informally to many of us, myself included, who had reached a point in their careers where – for a variety of reasons – they had to or wanted to move on from the original offstage role that brought them into the performing arts.

This is what Ken’s Network was set up to do, and it has been running some small pilot projects to work out how it could best provide support (complementing UK Theatre’s Workforce Review and development strategy). These pilots have made it clear to us in the network that we need more information from those who may be affected, so we would be very grateful if readers who are mid-career in offstage professions could complete this survey by August 1.

Barbara Eifler
Ken’s Network committee

Matt Henry

Actor Matt Henry: ‘When you leave London, you get a grittier response – it’s exciting’

After two amazing years as Lola, I made the very personal decision to leave Kinky Boots to focus on my home life ahead of the birth of my child.

The Kinky Boots family was extremely supportive of my decision to become a parent and I am very grateful to them and for my time with the show.

Matt Henry
Via email

Cancelled show

One-woman show featuring Ann Widdecombe pulled by theatre after gay therapy comments

Ann Widdecombe has been unapologetically homophobic for many years. The controversial comments in her Sky interview referred to similar ones she had made in print years before.

She also made her views clear during a stint on Celebrity Big Brother. While Selladoor did not book Widdecombe’s show before she became a member of the Brexit Party, it certainly didn’t book her as far back as early 2012 when she first explicitly endorsed so-called “conversion” therapy in a national newspaper.

This sounds like a cynical business decision. Were it an example of a consistent corporate ethical policy, Selladoor would not have booked her in the first place. Don’t get in the bath with a piranha and then be surprised when it bites.

Greg Hanson
Via thestage.co.uk

Magical Maggie

Daniel Evans: Let’s respect the (pint of) blood, sweat and tears of our elders

Older actors are absolutely a breed apart. I was mesmerised by Maggie Smith in A German Life and was overwhelmed by her commitment to the truth of theatre.

Gloria Carreno
Via thestage.co.uk

Quotes of the week

Rachel Chavkin. Photo: Shutterstock

“I wish I wasn’t the only woman directing a musical on Broadway this season. There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many artists of colour who are ready to go. And we need to see that racial diversity and gender diversity reflected in our critical establishment too. This is not a pipeline issue. It is a failure of imagination by a field whose job is to imagine the way the world could be. So let’s do it.” – Director Rachel Chavkin (accepting the Tony award for best director of a musical for Hadestown)

“I’m disappointed that people who bought the tickets are now finding they can’t have that fun after all. This is now the grip that I call the liberal tyranny and I think we have got to fight it.” – Ann Widdecombe on her one-woman show being cancelled (BBC News)

“I had heard you guys were going to be really reserved, but you are screaming and yelling along with us. I love it when an audience is like that. If people are feeling something such that they are moved to make a sound, that’s what they should do.” – Waitress actor Marisha Wallace on West End audiences (Broadwayworld.com)

“This is for every kid watching tonight who has a disability, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena – you are.” – Actor Ali Stroker, who on Sunday became the first wheelchair user to win a Tony, for her role in Oklahoma!

“Upsetting people is the point of theatre. The Greeks were right. It’s meant to be a cathartic experience.” – Actor John Malkovich, ahead of starring in David Mamet’s new play Bitter Wheat (Telegraph)

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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