It was a shock to see The Stage’s front page headline on October 10. My worst fears were quickly confirmed.
It seems Drama Centre is to be disembowelled of its founding principles by the administrators of the university that it was compelled to join to gain access to grants for students.
Apparently “the school in its current state is to be dismantled”, proving that it would be foolish to imagine university bureaucrats might endeavour to take to heart the aspects of Drama Centre’s unique processes that have produced so many actors of high originality who have contributed so much to British theatre and film.
A spokesman for University of the Arts London is quoted as saying: “No course should remain with a fixed historical system, so it is likely that changes will be made.” This fixed, ideological statement smacks of making change for change’s sake.
More worryingly, the spokesman makes no mention of the three brilliant director/teachers who led the rebellion from a long-established drama school to create Drama Centre. It is a school founded on the rock of change. It has no need of ill-researched, money-grubbing cuts that will damage its deservedly high reputation.
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I was greatly moved by Matthew Hemley’s column about Seyi Omooba and Christian Concern.
How did Omooba come to audition for – and accept a part in – The Color Purple in the first place? And why does Christian Concern want her to be associated with the production if it feels so strongly about the issue?
If I were asked to play a racist in an anti-racist play, then I might accept the role. But if I were offered a part in a play that was sympathetic to racism, I would turn it down. If Omooba is prepared to put her homophobic opinions on social media then it is unbelievable that she should audition for the play and accept a role in it. I’m sure she must have read the script. Curve was right to sack her – and generous to pay her wages for the whole run.
I am not a Christian, but I understand that Christ moved among those who were marginalised and outcast from the narrow-minded society of his day. I can’t help feeling that if he were alive today, he would be sad and ashamed of Omooba and Christian Concern.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Had Seyi Omooba lived in earlier times, the influence of her religion would have forbidden her to act. Women had no rights: they were the property of their husbands and their role was to bear children. This is no longer the case, so why should this change, and possibly others, be acceptable to her but not homosexuality?
The Bible appears to condone slavery, which I am sure Omooba does not. Scholars tell us that parts of the Bible were rewritten over time, most likely to influence certain doctrinal viewpoints, so it might not be wise to see the issue in such stark terms.
Geremy Phillips’ letter regarding the referendum to change Equity’s rules was misleading and factually inaccurate.
Equity’s commitment to promoting equality and fighting discrimination and harassment is unshakeable and enshrined in Rule 184.108.40.206, which reads: “To oppose actively all forms of bullying and unlawful victimisation, harassment and discrimination on the grounds prohibited under equality law and because of caring responsibilities, class or any other status or personal characteristic.”
Changing Rule 3.1.1, which is a scene-setter for the full rule, does not diminish the union’s position. In reality, the legal interpretation of “non-sectarian” has been used to prevent the union taking a position on issues that affect members, including the current climate crisis.
The proposed Rule 3.1.1 has been drafted by the union’s solicitors to ensure that the union’s fight for our members is unimpeded. The House of Lords, on the other hand, has never “endorsed” the union’s rules – the courts only rule on the interpretation of our rules. In fact, in 1986 the High Court found that the previous version of the union’s rules prevented Equity taking action on apartheid. No member could possibly see this as a moment in history to which they would wish the union to return.
I write on behalf of the Rose Theatre Trust, based in Rose Court, the office block above the site of the Elizabethan Rose playhouse on Bankside in Southwark.
We were sorry to learn of the liquidation of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre and realise how devastating this will have been for their employees. The company’s productions in York and at Blenheim Palace highlighted contemporary interest in the staging of plays from the late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods and their relevance today.
As the names of our organisations are similar, the Rose Theatre Trust would like to point out that it has no connection with Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre. We exist primarily to bring the site of the Rose playhouse. back into public use for present and future generations.
Chair, Rose Theatre Trust
“I’ve got a group of amazing actor friends who are right at the top of their game. They’re all gorgeous, sexy, amazing women in their 40s and are being sent grandmother roles.” – Actor Tracy Ann Oberman (Metro)
“In improv, we tend to ask for our heckles at the top of the show, to get it out of the way. We call them ‘suggestions’. Once, during a show, a bird flew on stage and caused a ruckus. That was pretty spicy: I couldn’t tell what he was actually saying.” – Tom Dickson, comedian and founder of Austentatious (Guardian)
“Moving between London and not-London is actually very useful because not-London is increasingly different to London. they are like two different countries.” – Playwright Mike Bartlett (London Evening Standard)
“I’m living in Penarth in Cardiff now, and I can see in the future that I’ll have something to do with some kind of establishment, be it the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama or the Welsh National Opera or starting something within my own foundation, which I must say I haven’t really worked hard at. I feel a tad guilty about that, because I should now be doing something for the younger artists coming through.” – Singer Bryn Terfel (Telegraph)
“I was scared I would do a musical and then realise I didn’t like them and actually the opposite happened. I’m like: ‘I want to do at least one musical a year until the day that I die!’” – Director Tinuke Craig (Guardian)
“If people think they’re going to see the actual Queen, they can sod off. It’s a drama.” – Olivia Colman on starring in The Crown (Times)
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