Lyn Gardner is right to say the Edinburgh Fringe needs to renew its purpose.
As someone who lives in Edinburgh, I have worked and acted in fringe shows since 1992. Not only does the fringe need to be better thought out, the city is completely overrun by it.
I love the fringe, but less and less each year. It is far too commercialised and there are too many corporate venues. It feels very unoriginal now: pop-up drinks vans and plastic signage are not signs of authenticity. People will catch on to this eventually and the fringe will lose any remaining allure it once had.
Edinburgh is a living city, not a venue. The infrastructure is falling apart, and year on year the costs to citizens go up. Short-term lets have become a massive August cash cow, degrading the old town and Leith area and making it impossible for locals to rent or buy a house, never mind the cost to productions for accommodation.
Now is the time for change, but it’s unlikely to happen as the root of everything that happens here is money – not at all how it used to be.
After the lockdown, I think the government will open things slowly over a couple of weeks, perhaps a month or so apart.
First it could be non-essential shops, libraries and gyms for a few weeks, followed by cinemas and restaurants then bigger venues clubs, stadiums and theatres.
If social interaction is allowed gradually, it should put people’s minds at ease. Let’s hope the West End sticks to its plan to reopen in June – maybe those venues, as well as stadiums and clubs, will offer only up to half of their capacity for the first month or so.
Businesses will struggle across the board. When people are scared, they don’t spend. Numerous people are going to be broke. Plus they’ll be conditioned to stay inside and be fearful of others. It’s going to be a long climb back.
Maybe venues should check audience members’ temperature at the door?
West End Producer answers an interesting question: ‘Will drama schools lower their fees as teaching moves online during the Covid-19 lockdown?’.
As a primary school teacher at an international school, I’m still employed. But many independent, fee-paying schools in the UK might close, never to reopen. I follow many drama schools on Twitter and see the fabulous jobs they are all doing for their pupils, but as a parent of a daughter who trained in London, I’m aware of the high costs many people face.
It would be great if drama school fees were dropped – though in our case it’s because our daughter has been offered lots of places and needs a Dance and Drama Award to fund her training.
She is competing with students who have been training for years, but with three years’ experience and lots of natural talent, she is perhaps at a disadvantage because of delays in the way the DaDA system works.
Recent use of social media and digital technology has proven that teaching outside the classroom is possible, especially for students in isolated areas. But on the whole, class teaching is still the best method of teaching under normal circumstances.
The skills required in the industry are deeper than just dance, singing and acting. As well as the personal interaction needed for performance, addressing mental health and social needs is just as important.
With Russell Lane, I worked on the scripts of the final two BBC TV series of Little and Large. They were a great pair to be with, both professionally and socially. Eddie was multi-talented and could do pitch-perfect impersonations of just about everybody.
I used to try to challenge him with gags and routines that I thought might faze him, but I never succeeded – I was simply amazed at how accurate and brilliantly satirical his impressions were.
As a comedian, Eddie’s timing was second to none and his quick-thinking ad libs usually got belly-laughs.
My condolences to his lovely wife Patsy, with whom I also enjoyed working when she was a hostess and singer on the Yorkshire Television game show 3-2-1.
So long, Eddie. You’ll be hard to replace.
Michael Quinn’s obituary of my friend John Travis, reminded me of his beginnings in the dance world, when he first performed at the Royal Opera House as a member of Romayne Grigorova’s Opera Ballet.
This meant appearing in many of the great 19th-century operas, which nearly always had a dance section as part of the opera. To John’s good fortune, his period there coincided with Joan Sutherland at her peak, and he was lucky enough to appear alongside her in her many triumphs at that time.
Theatre people being who they are, John became known as Joan. This nickname changed as the diva’s career progressed and Joan ultimately became Dame Joan: as the singer was ennobled, so was our dancer.
Always a keen theatre historian and collector of memorabilia, he later became official archivist to London Festival Ballet (later English National Ballet) and several other companies, and so John became known as Joan of Archives – in a later translation, Jeanne d’Archive.
Despite warnings from friends who visited his home over the years – in which every nook and cranny was filled with books or cuttings – that one day he would be found buried under a collapsed pile of newspapers, the fate of the French heroine was thankfully not his.
Now at rest after a long struggle against cancer, he will no doubt be happily gossiping with the legends he so adored, from Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin to Joan Sutherland herself. How appropriate it would be, if in its new home, ENB could name a room for its archives, which John did so much to create, after him – if not Joan of Archives, then the John Travis Room.
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