The row over US investors threatening to pull cash if they don’t receive an Olivier statuette is stupid.
Just because you put money into a show, it doesn’t make you a producer. I was at a tiny show at Soho Theatre a few days ago and there were three producers listed above the title – and another four below it. I can’t believe they all actually did the work.
Having a co-production is one thing, but giving credits to those who are due to profit (or not) from the work of the ‘actual’ producer is stupid in the extreme. You want to know where the money came from? Read their accounts. If investors’ egos are that much in need of a polish, let them put their money towards therapy sessions.
Investing in a show does not make you a producer. A producer produces, spinning the web between all the various participants to put the show on the stage.
While Equity rightly backs the #YesOrNo campaign for auditioning actors to be told whether or not they were successful, perhaps the union should address its own recruitment policy.
A recently advertised position states that “applications will not be acknowledged but, if you are to be called for interview, you will be notified shortly after the closing date”. No feedback is offered for candidates not shortlisted.
How is this any different from actors preparing for auditions not being respected? Preparing job applications takes time, just as preparing for a role does, and waiting to hear (and hearing nothing) takes a toll on non-actors too. I recently had to follow up an interview with a university for a theatre position to ask if I had been successful, so Equity is not alone in this, but as a union it should at the very least be taking a lead.
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I was sorry to read of the aggression suffered by West End theatre ushers.
I attribute such appalling behaviour to three factors: the era of selfishness ushered in during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher, which the Labour Party has been unsuccessful in combating; the sense of entitlement engendered by our public school system, of which our new prime minister is one of the worst examples; and the narcissism encouraged by social media, which contributes little to the UK economy.
One of the few things keeping me cheery in the current febrile atmosphere is my involvement in the National Theatre’s Public Acts community production of a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which will be staged at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
It has a cast of 100 from nine diverse groups from all over London and I pay tribute to the creative and stage management teams for their kindness and patience as they rehearse us for what will probably be the highlight of my 70 years as an amdram performer. If only the politicians would cooperate in the same way, the UK would become a much fairer place.
David J Savage
South Ockendon, Essex
Leeds Playhouse is my local theatre. The quality of its front-of-house staff is consistently high and adds significantly to the pleasure of a visit.
I have never witnessed any instances of bad behaviour among the audience or confrontations between them and the ushers. Is this a London thing?
I work in a box office and until a week ago I would have said no to body cameras, but then I had a nasty experience that led to the police being called. Now, I can see why they might be useful, as a deterrent as much as anything.
Regarding general audience behaviour, such as eating and taking photos in the auditorium, I haven’t really seen that here in Scotland or at English regional theatres I’ve visited. Perhaps this happens only in the West End.
It’s wonderful to see your support for the hardworking companies travelling up to the fringe.
However, it would be even better to see mention of one or two shows at the free fringe. I took shows to Edinburgh from 2007 to 2010. Thanks to a mention in The Stage, we received the audiences and reviews needed to recoup costs and move forward in our careers.
PBH Free Fringe and Laughing Horse Free Festival reach out to artists who may otherwise be unable to afford the huge venue costs. It keeps working-class artists ‘in the game’ and the shows are as worthy of mention as any paid show. The Stage can make a huge difference to a company’s success and if even one free show is put in the spotlight each year, it will help us all move forward, regardless of our means.
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“Do you know what? Genuinely, it helps in this business being called Rupert. I’ve sniffed that attitude in acting: the Oxbridge thing. Making movies isn’t a cheap exercise. You need money and the knock-on from that is the industry is populated by a lot of posh people. It’s very hard to break into if you’re not middle class and privately educated.” – Actor Rupert Graves (Guardian)
“They invited me to rehearsals of the show, which was quite brave, because if I don’t like something I can really rip it apart. Luckily, I think this is superb.” – Author Jill Murphy on the stage adaptation of The Worst Witch (Telegraph)
“You could get student grants in my day; without those I’d never have been able to become an actor. I get letters all the time from drama students asking for help and I do as much as I can. It’s beholden on us because, otherwise, how will new talent come through?” – Actor Frances Barber (Guardian)
“When it comes to new venues a spirit of confidence is abroad, soaring above the clouds of pessimism generated by the stormy political climate of the past few years. London arguably hasn’t seen a new theatre boom like this since the late Victorian and early Edwardian era.” – Critic Dominic Cavendish on the opening of Troubadour White City (Daily Telegraph)
“A play is as long as it needs to be, and this incorporates a man’s life from his 20s to 80s and also his entire psychological journey, from triumph to disaster. You’ve got to feel you’ve lived through it. So I don’t accept length as a criticism of a play. I just think you absolute philistine. Go and pull your heid oot yer arse, honestly.” – Actor James McArdle on the National Theatre’s Peter Gynt, in which he stars (Scotsman)
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