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How to stop immersive theatre being a threat to actors – your views, May 30

Thomas Maller in The Great Gatsby when the immersive show was at Vault Festival, London Thomas Maller in The Great Gatsby when the immersive show was at Vault Festival, London
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If immersive theatre is a threat to the actors, I have an idea: why not try putting it in a big room, getting a proper writer to craft a coherent narrative, then perhaps getting the audience to sit at one end then, for their safety, put the actors on a raised bit at the other?

You could perhaps give it a name, like a ‘stage’. It might just work and couldn’t be any worse than any piece of ‘immersive’ theatre.

Richard Voyce
Via thestage.co.uk

Poor working conditions

Costume designer Catherine Kodicek: Work conditions must improve for the sake of our mental well-being

If backstage workers don’t like it, they can always find a different job. If you find your job too stressful, quit and move on.

Dani Neumann
Via Facebook

I am glad The Stage has run a few articles on this recently – especially about people working on the design and technical side, highlighting the unsustainability of the hours they are expected to work. In most jobs, people are not expected to do more than 70 hours a week, as Johanna Town argued two months ago.

This culture of ultra-long working hours has been normalised, especially in public sector jobs, but that doesn’t make it right. That’s not disliking a job, or finding it stressful – it’s an unrealistic job expectation. It’s unhealthy and it shouldn’t be asked of anyone in any job.

Though I don’t work in lighting, I think it is important to support other people in the industry who are in this position.

Cathy Conneff
Via Facebook

Economic stigma persists

Dear West End Producer: How do you become a successful actor?

As a reader of more than 50 years, I believe West End Producer’s column is the best item in The Stage.

Coming from a poor, working-class family, I was never able to train at a top drama school in the 1960s. One often reads about the economic problems for would-be drama students these days, yet it was arguably even more difficult in the mid-20th century.

Gordon Steff
Shipley, West Yorkshire

Disrespectful TV coverage

ITV’s Oliviers broadcast rapped for ‘shocking and disrespectful’ treatment of obituaries section

I’m glad ITV’s coverage of ‘those who left us’ in the Oliviers ceremony has been criticised at the highest level.

I was dismayed by the thoughtless direction of this particular section of the show – that the foreground performer was favoured, rather than the carefully produced sequence of obituary pictures behind, which is what this section was all about. How could ITV balls this up? Truly unforgiveable.

Paul Clarke
Via thestage.co.uk

Put on your best bib and tucker

Kate Maltby: Imposing outdated dress codes will make theatre more exclusive

What evidence is there that young people are put off by the non-existent dress codes?

Perhaps the aesthetic preferences of the middle-aged who actually support theatre deserve a brief moment’s attention?

Thomas Dillon
Via thestage.co.uk

Three cheers for Kelsey Grammer

Man of La Mancha review at London Coliseum – ‘Kelsey Grammer saves a patchy production’

I’ve never seen Cheers, I’ve never seen Frasier and I’d never heard of Kelsey Grammer before. I went to see Man of La Mancha and was more than satisfied with the performance of the leading actor. It was a truly memorable evening.

Noel King
Tralee, Co Kerry, Ireland

Rail rip-off hits actors too

Extortionate train fares are pricing us out of auditions, actors warn

I totally agree about the extortionate nature of rail fares, but this is not just true for auditions.

I live on the south coast, and was recently offered an opportunity to work as an extra at a large studio. However, the train I needed to travel on passed through London, and I would have had to pay a £81.60 train fare to get there in the morning. The job didn’t pay that much, so what was the point?

Arnold Kruger
Via thestage.co.uk

Robert Breckman – a true one-off

Theatre accountant Robert Breckman: ‘Actors are all mad as hatters. And so am I’

Nick Higham’s article about Robert Breckman was very touching and honest.

Robert is indeed a one-off and will be missed. I hope it was a coincidence that the obituaries page was opposite it in that issue of The Stage. I trust it will be some time before Robert makes that page and he can enjoy his retirement to the full.

Alexander Jules
Email address supplied

Quotes of the week

Michael Sheen (left) and Ian McKellen in Aladdin. Photos: Shutterstock/Tristram Kenton

“For me, one of the most enjoyable phases of his life was when he went: ‘I don’t give a fuck any more, I’m going to do exactly what I want.’ And then he did Coronation Street and panto. And loved it. I saw his Twankey and it was fantastic.” – Actor Michael Sheen celebrates Ian McKellen’s 80th birthday by recalling his role in Aladdin at the Old Vic in 2004, below (Guardian)

“Sad phone call with friend who has cancelled an audition because her childcare has fallen through and she’s convinced if she takes the baby she won’t be taken seriously. ALL babies are welcome at auditions for my shows, we have to make room for carers to not have to hide their responsibilities. I’ll hold the baby, extra points for a dog. If you can get there with a small person in tow then you can DEFINITELY be relied on to hold a show together.” – Director Kate Golledge (Twitter)

“Why is work of ‘scale’ the barometer of ability to direct? Talk about story, rigour, passion. Give feedback that’s actionable. Value the way work is made. Let scale equal emotional impact, not production budget.” – Director Sara Joyce (Twitter)

“This theatre is a survivor, it’s been rebuilt, it’s moved location and in the 1960s it was going to be knocked down but the local community made a massive campaign to save it. It’s still here. If that is to do with the fact the local community feel it matters, that to me is the key.” – Lyric Hammersmith artistic director Rachel O’Riordan (Evening Standard)

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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