Having returned to the UK to star in a wonderful new touring production of The Cat and the Canary – my first tour here in more than 10 years – I love revisiting all the provincial theatres and marvel at their many refurbishments in recent years.
Unfortunately, it would seem all the money has, as always, been spent front of house – a recent case being Barnstaple’s Queen’s Theatre, with its very dated backstage facilities, draughts strong enough to fly kites on and buckets required in the dressing room to collect rain water. I am a Viking warrior but is it any wonder I became ill with a chest infection? It’s not a lone example, but certainly one of the worst I’ve ever experienced.
The venue management’s reason was: “Oh, it’s an old theatre”, as though that’s acceptable. While I realise all the money is made front of house, don’t theatres in this day and age realise actors and producers – who bring that money in – will simply refuse to return?
Come on, theatres: repair the gaps and leaks and treat us actors with respect, care and compassion backstage as well.
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I agree with David Benedict. When they said Stoppard was our greatest living playwright I couldn’t help but think: “After Churchill, Bennett – and a few others.”
Doug R Dunn
Gregory Doran has hit back at Dominic Cavendish’s criticisms of “woke” Shakespeare productions.
Shakespeare has had to weather all kinds of political storms. He has always been politically sensitive. Having survived the worst excesses of Calvinism, he is still with us.
I’ve worked for the RSC as well as many other theatres. In my experience, I find it is a gender-obsessed elitist bubble that panders to the middle classes and is out of touch with reality. Surely to use a grand author such as Shakespeare who died 400 years ago to promote a temporary ideology is crass? Good old Bill didn’t pen The Boy in the Dress.
So, theatres could have a legal duty to take measures to protect the public from terrorist attacks.
This added responsibility is going to fall on already over-burdened shoulders. But as someone who delivers counter-terrorism training, I can assure The Stage’s readers that the hurdle that Martyn’s law might seem to be is not really that much of an obstacle. The concept is not to make every venue a fortress – it just needs a common-sense approach and the application of reasonable security measures.
Richard C Pendry
It would be good to know what staff training would be required, and where the funding for that training would come from.
Matthew Hemley pointed out that inconsistent phone rules leave theatre audiences confused.
The same is true of the way some shows encourage audience members to get up and dance in the aisles during parts of the show, while others expect deadly silent attention. Does this cause the same kind of confusion for people who don’t attend theatres often?
For many people, productions they saw as a child might have encouraged audience participation – which is then frowned on when they are an adult. For non-regular theatregoers, these rules must be very confusing.
Why has Selladoor launched an app allowing audience members to order drinks to their seats?
There is time to have a drink before the performance, during the interval and after the show has ended. I am there to enjoy the show and performances. Isn’t there enough noise from crisps and sweets?
As an artist who has worked with masks and puppets, the stealing of Kneehigh’s puppets is tantamount to kidnapping. The personal investment in masks and puppets transforms them and they are no longer objects to the artist, but fellow creatures. It may sound weird to those who don’t know, but to those who do understand, this is awful news.
Andrew Erskine Wheeler
“I note the Queen’s Theatre is now the Sondheim (don’t tell Queen Alexandra), which made me wonder if there has yet been a theatre named after the immortal Lionel Bart and if not, why not? He was a great inspiration to Andrew Lloyd Webber and me.” – Lyricist Tim Rice (Twitter)
“Years ago I was in a production where the soprano was all over me. It was too much. It struck me that this is how it feels when you want to say, ‘Get your hands off me,’ but can’t. Of course I realise that in most situations it’s the female who is targeted. And usually she is in the less powerful situation, so she feels she has to go along with it.” – Opera singer Jonas Kaufmann (Times)
“Casting fallacy: In musicals, white actors play Egyptians, phantoms and French prisoners. In 2020, actors of colour don’t get the same opportunities. How can this be fair and reasonable?” – Actor Irvine Iqbal (Twitter)
“I was aware I couldn’t be a part of the boys’ network, and I was a Northerner. I was never considered stupid but people would see my enthusiasm and drive and go: ‘Aren’t you a bit pushy, a bit ambitious, mouthy.’” – Director Jude Kelly (Twitter)
“I’m not saying I believe I’m any of these people reincarnated. [But] you are attempting, in being an actor, to take on the soul of somebody to the best of your imaginative powers. And the imagination is strong.” – Actor Rosamund Pike (Sunday Times)
“I lost it. It put a worm of doubt in my head that stayed with me for years. It was stage fright. We’d done China and ended up in Sydney, and the last day, doubt came into my head. Thank God I kept going, but every pore in my body opened and I sweated my way through two performances. I didn’t go on stage again for two years.” – Actor Derek Jacobi (Times)
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