It’s fantastic that the Royal Shakespeare Company is ending its sponsorship deal with BP.
I often find it hard to marry my passion for theatre with my responsibility to our environment. This is a great step in the right direction.
I was sorry to hear the RSC is terminating its relationship with BP. I think the decision is unwise, hypocritical, unfair and damaging. There is no such thing as clean money in sponsorship, as the RSC must have known for years.
Did the company just discover that BP was a ‘baddy’ or did it cave in to the current opinionated fads about saving the planet? Why doesn’t it shut down its theatres so people don’t have to burn petrol getting to them? And why doesn’t it stop heating or lighting them?
The world really has turned upside down as it proceeds on the route to ethical and physical self-destruction. One would have preferred the RSC to be a beacon in the engulfing sea of intellectual insanity.
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It seems that 10,000 young people a year will miss out on a highly subsidised ticket scheme at a time when fewer of them than ever are going to the theatre.
Earlier this year, The Stage reported on a survey that identified ticket prices as the top factor that put off young adults from attending the theatre.
Given the power of the youth vote to sway the management, creatives and trustees at the RSC, how easy will it be for the organisation to sign a new sponsor for the £5 ticket scheme that “remains a priority”?
BP commented: “The increasing polarisation of this debate, and attempts to exclude companies committed to making real progress, is exactly what is not needed. This global challenge needs everyone – companies, governments and individuals – to work together to achieve a low-carbon future.”
I hope the company is not prevented from finding a home in the beleaguered arts sector – ideally the theatre – for its funding, which is welcomed and appreciated.
The Seyi Omooba case is a sad and sorry mess. It is understandable that members of the LGBT+ community have been offended but it is particularly sad that Omooba has lost her livelihood and the possibility of a promising career. Her opinions are undoubtedly misguided, but I have read the reports and comments with a sense of increasing despair. Whatever happened to compassion?
This performer claimed publicly that she thinks homosexuality is wrong and shouldn’t have rights under the law. Any artist claiming a minority group doesn’t deserve civil rights is asking for trouble, and she found it. I also find it very problematic that she didn’t consider Celie gay or Christian. While Celie may be sexually fluid, to deny what the authors have written is grounds for dismissal in itself. Omooba should become an evangelical pastor, since that is her narrow and prejudiced worldview.
At times I feel that this country is returning to the 17th century, when those whose religious position did not conform to the mainstream view were mercilessly persecuted.
Omooba hates no one and has simply been open about her religious beliefs, which are based on biblical teaching and no different from those of millions of other Christians across the world. She could have kept her beliefs locked away in the closet, as gay people used to do with their sexuality. In some countries this is necessary for survival (for Christians and gay people alike), but surely this country should be a place where people can be honest without risking the loss of employment.
I fear for my daughter, who is about to embark upon a stage career. Like Omooba, she is a Christian who is not afraid to be open about her beliefs. Judging by the precedent this case has set, her career could be ended before it has even begun.
I can’t help feeling Michael Billington’s opinions on the state of Shakespeare productions are based on London (and Stratford) theatres, and he is unaware of excellent work elsewhere.
Two of the best productions I’ve seen in the last 25 years were at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds: Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing, both in the past year.
In addition, radio Shakespeare is still very much alive and well. Both Pericles (2017) and The Winter’s Tale (2016) were excellent. This year, there have been three new productions on BBC Radio 3: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Coriolanus.
Please don’t judge the state of all Shakespeare production by a small selection of the work going on around the country.
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“I got very emotional gazing out from the stage each night and seeing young men in the audience who looked just like me, who know what it’s like to be a young black man in this country. That show [Barber Shop Chronicles] was for the culture.” – Actor Hammed Animashaun (Guardian)
“I was a theatre geek to the max. That’s where I found my community and all of my friends and where I really belonged. I sort of take for granted the way that helped me to cope with the harder aspects of high school. I think a lot of kids dealing with anxiety or depression have a hard time seeing outside of the world of high school because the stakes feel so high.” – Actor Ben Platt (Telegraph)
“I think our job as artists is not just to reflect where the version of reality we think is going right now, it’s also to show the kind of reality that we want. It’s aspirational reality.” – Comedian, writer and actor Meera Syal (speaking at the Act for Change conference at Shakespeare’s Globe)
“I feel everybody should be able to play everybody. It seems absurd to me to start to legislate on creativity. That’s not trying to be insensitive – of course, there are people who have a deeper understanding of experiences, and they should definitely be considered… [but] I certainly don’t want to play myself for the rest of my life. I’m about to get myself into trouble, I know.” – Actor Sienna Miller (Telegraph)
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