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SOLT members don’t judge the Olivier Awards’ affiliate category (your views, March 28)

This year’s Oliviers drew in 600,000 TV viewers. Photo: Darren Bell The Olivier Awards. Photo: Darren Bell
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In his column ‘Illogical Oliviers eligibility needs a serious shake-up’, Matt Trueman suggests that the Olivier award for outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre is judged by Society of London Theatre members who have not seen all the eligible productions.

This is untrue: an independent, specially selected panel of theatre professionals and theatre-loving members of the public (who apply and are interviewed for a position) is solely responsible for shortlisting and judging entries for this category.

As part of their role, panellists are obliged to see every eligible production. SOLT members are not involved in the judging of the affiliate category.

Julian Bird
Chief executive of SOLT and executive producer of the Olivier Awards

Religious beliefs and casting

Seyi Omooba to leave The Color Purple after row over ‘homophobic’ Facebook post

It was the right decision for Seyi Omooba to leave The Color Purple. She really needs to think about her own prejudices – especially when taking a role in a production of a play that is entirely about challenging prejudices.

Lindsey Slapp
Via Facebook

Since when have the ‘thought police’ been able to dictate what and how people are allowed to think? I am not a Christian, but if Seyi Omooba’s religious beliefs include that homosexuality is wrong then so be it.

Lots of us undertake work that goes against our views. I find it easier to accept differing sexuality than I do believing homosexuality is wrong. But I would not tell someone that is the only acceptable view.

Give the poor girl a break: she is entitled to her views, whatever way of life she believes in.

J Holloway
Via thestage.co.uk

This situation is an example to actors about your use of social media: you are a product, like it or not. Anything you say on any platform reflects on you.

It’s somewhat shocking that Omooba auditioned for the role in the first place. It is a lead role in a quality production, but she must have done some research or at least known the plot. To hold those opinions and then feel you are the most suitable person to reflect that character on stage is naive to say the least.

Owen Pugh
Via Facebook


Finney would fare well today

Editor’s View: Would Albert Finney have made it in today’s theatre climate?

Surely Albert Finney would not be held back today. The son of an illegal bookmaker, he inherited his father’s ‘ducking and diving’ attitude to life.

Finney had essential qualities for an actor – stamina, ingenuity and enterprise – plus incredible charisma on stage and screen. Today, he might not have learned about RADA via a newspaper or TV interview with a favourite actor, but the school’s website makes its commitment to access clear. Auditions are held in 10 locations, with fees and travel expenses waived in some cases – for those not supported by parents, with a disability, from a BAME background, or living in an area with a low participation rate. The intake is 14 male and 15 female, and 40% of students come from a working-class background. RADA also offers students help to find accommodation. It’s no wonder that 4,000 prospective students audition every year.

In today’s world, a canny Finney would have understood that he wouldn’t have to pay back a loan if he was earning under a certain figure, but he would probably have been convinced of his ability to earn a high salary.

Would he have been ‘spotted’ by a big agent? You bet he would – they would fall on their knees as he came towards them. The rep system doesn’t really exist any more, but organisations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company do present work in repertory and prove a useful training ground for actors of all backgrounds.

Writers such as Alan Sillitoe would have a tougher time today. So much has changed since the 1980s, when TV commissioners began to favour period drama and middle-class angst over depictions of working-class people living in tough times.

Doremy Vernon
Email address supplied

Obituary: Albert Finney – scintillating stage actor who went on to enjoy a varied screen career

How far should casting rules go?

Irvine Iqbal makes an interesting point when he questions the casting of Jason Donovan, a white actor, as Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

But if we are to go along that road, surely Joseph and all his brothers must be played by Jewish Israelis.

Katherine Hope
Seaford, East Sussex

Stop audiences singing along

Tina Turner musical producer: ’We have had to remind audiences they are not watching a concert’

I am glad to hear that producers are tailoring pre-show announcements for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical.

I attended another musical during which audience members thought it was a concert and they could sing along. I want to hear the cast sing, not the audience. This behaviour is very off-putting and I end up having to tell other audience members to shut up.

Mark Sadler
Via Facebook

Quotes of the week

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm. Photo: Hannah Yates

“I want playwrights starting out to see that you can have a show on in the West End and people still won’t like how you write. Which is why you must always ALWAYS write as you do. You cannot second-guess what people will and won’t enjoy.” – Emilia playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Twitter)

“I think it’s a positive decision that Seyi Omooba has now left the production of The Color Purple at @CurveLeicester @brumhippodrome. Wishing all the best to the cast and creatives. And good luck to Seyi for her upcoming role of Alison in the revival of Fun Home. #dear” – West End Producer (Twitter)

“I’ve become fairly obsessed about the Hamilton legacy. I have moments of despair about it. But [Alexander] Hamilton was young when he faced these things and he wrote himself out of his situation: rap does the same kind of thing.” – Hamilton actor Jamael Westman (Guardian)

“There have always been great roles for women in opera. But as a business it’s become much more ruthless and less respectful. The nurturing you used to get from [former English National Opera chairman] Lord Harewood no longer exists. Now you’re either in or you’re out.” – Opera singer Josephine Barstow (Telegraph)

“I did say to my agent, after Voldermort, ‘Please don’t send me any bad guys.’ I don’t think I’ve broken that promise, unless you count David Hare getting me to play his version of Tony Blair in Page Eight.” – Actor Ralph Fiennes on playing villains (Times)

“It’s been an absolute highlight of my career and my life, so I’m really scared for when Bobbie’s not in my life any more.” – Company actor Rosalie Craig (Sunday Times)

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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