ShentonSTAGE Daily for FRIDAY OCTOBER 15

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Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily that is e-mailed to subscribers every morning (to subscribe, send message to, and is also available online here.

Today is a double issue — also including Wednesday’s newsletter that I didn’t previously post here. (There was no newsletter yesterday)

I have written often, alas, of the failures — in England, at least — of proper safety protocols in theatres around mask wearing, the simplest of precautions to mitigate against the spread of COVID, where it is merely requested, not demanded, and more often that not ignored as a result.

As Chris Cox, a performer who was seen in Wonderville at the Palace Theatre recently, tweeted:

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In Wales, where since Monday COVID passports are required for admission to public spaces and mask wearing is law, theatregoing is a much safer activity.

Yet, as in America where mask wearing is seen in some quarters as an infringement on personal freedoms and personal choice, we continue to play with fire. Theatres WILL shut again if this carries on.At which point, I don’t want to hear any protests from SOLT and UK Theatre, or appeals for financial help from venues and producers, either.


A shocking story was revealed on how Harold Hobson succeeded James Agate as drama critic at the Sunday Times by Hobson himself, as tweeted by current Times daily theatre critic Clive Davis:

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His chief qualification? He was straight. I wonder if that’s how Quentin Letts, current holder of the job on the Sunday TImes, got the job, too?

In a feature in The Guardian, TIm Minchin wrote of the perils of the fame game (and the pain that results), published ahead of his return to tour the UK, starting this weekend in Aberdeen.

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“I am married to my childhood sweetheart Sarah, and we had kids relatively young. I like my kids, and I like Sarah. I like peace and quiet. I love running and eating reasonably. I like playing piano by myself and I like being able to walk to the shops without being stopped. I like my liver.

But do you know what else I like? Like, reallyfucking like? I really like wine. I really like tour buses with cheese platters at midnight, and nice hotels and someone to sort my washing. I like 10,000 people leaping to their feet to applaud me. I like heads turning when I walk into a bar, and being stopped in Boots for photos. I like hanging with smart, funny people and getting papped on the way out of the Groucho. I like being respected by people I admire. I like ending up in late-night bars in romantic cities and having that shock of realisation that a sexy person is hitting on me. I, like everyone, love feeling wanted.

And I knew that none of that shit is good for a person.Screenshot 2021-10-13 at 09.05.51.png

All of it basically (actually, literally) rewires your brain. “Fame” takes that internal camera we call the “self” and puts it on a massive selfie stick, so when you are in public a percentage of your brain is always occupied by observing yourself in the third person. And eventually you don’t know how to reel that camera back in, even when you’re at home with your partner and kids. You start to believe that you are an entity. You learn to like yourself as much as you are liked, which means, when the trolls come trolling, you tend to hate yourself as much as you are hated. There is a reason why famous people are often screwed up: it’s not that wankers become famous, it’s that fame makes you a wanker.”

As Tim Walker tweeted yesterday,

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Could this therefore be the perfect moment to revive the aforementioned Tim Minchin’s musical adaptation of GROUNDHOG DAY?

And speaking of Groundhog Day: as James O’Brien tweeted this morning,

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With mask wearing in theatres and other public places now more honoured in the breach than the observance, this is hardly a surprise. I have been campaigning, without success, for SOLT and UK Theatre to take some responsibility, but then like Boris Johnson, no one is.

When I asked London’s five major theatre owning chains for details of their ventilation and mitigation measures, two didn’t even bother to reply.

On Wednesday, a friend asked me on Facebook if it was safe to go to the Young Vic right now. I replied:

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As she duly replied:

She duly replied: “Thanks so much. Sadly I also feel unwilling to support our industry”.And yet, despite the failures of leadership all around, not only do the people concerned remain their jobs, but Boris Johnson’s popularity remains undiminished:

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It’s like being in an abusive relationship you can’t get out of.


From an interview with Eddie Redmayne in British Vogue, about CABARET which opens at the Playhouse next month:

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