Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily.
I did something truly remarkable (by my standards, at least) — I came up to London on Saturday from my home in West Sussex, and DIDN’T GO TO THE THEATRE!
I felt almost guilty. But it was good to remind myself that I don’t have to go at EVERY available opportunity! I’d come up for one of my weekly fellowship meetings — though it does actually take place INSIDE a theatre, so I suppose technically I DID go to a theatre, but I just didn’t see a show there! And then I met an old friend for lunch, who I’d not seen in person for at least twenty years (we’ve been in touch only via Facebook). And then I went back home again.
I’m seeking to do things a little differently in 2023. The obsessive need to cram in theatre at every opportunity need not rule my life! I’ve always said it is impossible to see everything; now I need to truly embrace that.
Since moving to the countryside in the summer of 2021, I’ve made at least one trip a week to London, often for an overnight stay, and then another day trip on Saturdays, which has enabled me to typically see four or five shows a week still. This coming week, I’ll see only three — the openings for the transfer of the recent touring production of Michael Frayn’s NOISES OFF and the return of MY SON’S A QUEER (BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO) on Wednesday and Friday respectively at the Phoenix and Ambassadors, and then a catch-up Saturday matinee for the Young Vic’s MANDELA (hopefully — my four previous attempts at seeing it have all been thwarted by cancellation).
I am also still striving not to be entirely London-centric in my theatregoing habits, either — luckily, I have Chichester 20 minutes from my front door to theirs, where Justin Audibert was announced last week to be taking over from Daniel Evans as artistic director, beginning his tenure in July. I also have Brighton and Southampton in close range.
But more than that, I also have countryside life quite literally on my doorstep, Yesterday morning, this fella came visiting our back garden:
That’s presumably because the wild brooks, the area of the South Downs right below us (view from the end of our garden, below) where they usually roam, is currently flooded, so they’ve come to higher ground in search of food.
#StandUpFor17: EQUITY UK DEMANDS 17% PAY RISE FOR WEST END’S LOWEST PAID
Last week I wrote here about a cast member of the West End company of MOULIN ROUGE publicly asking:
Equity UK has now responded, launching a campaign for a 17% pay rise on the minimums that are currently agreed between the Unions and theatre producers. Or a West End strike may be on the horizon.
It’s a campaign that is gaining high level support: Matthew Modine, currently leading the cast of the West End company of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, tweeted:
Hannah Waddingham, whom SOLT last week announced will host this year’s Olivier Awards (for which she has been nominated three times, but not yet won), has also come on board:
Jason Manford, whom she takes over as the awards presenter after he hosted them for 5 years, also tweeted:
And there’s the rub: when producers for the West End run of COCK last May spiked tickets for the final weeks of their run to phenomenal £400 each, as I wrote here at the time (with one of the actors being the show’s understudy propelled into the lead when Taron Egerton departed after a handful of performances), it seems that neither performers nor audiences are being looked after, only the bottom line of producers keen to increase their profits.
As Olivier nominated actor Carly Mercedes Dyer tweeted at the time,
Actors are rightly finally making a stand by saying that they will not work if their wages don’t go up; if only audiences could vote with their feet (or seats) and take the same stand against the rampant price inflation of ticket prices, too. But unfortunately, just as there will always be actors prepared to take a job at ANY wage, there are always some audience members who will pay ANY price. So the market ultimately sets the ticket prices; but the market alone clearly cannot be trusted to set the wages for those whose efforts make that money. It’s why we need unions.
SHOWS AHEAD IN LONDON, SELECTED REGIONAL THEATRES AND ON BROADWAY
My regularly updated feature on shows in London, selected regional theatres and on Broadway is here: https://shentonstage.com/theatre-openings-from-w-c-january-23/
See you here on Friday
I will be back on Friday. If you can’t wait that long, I may also be found on Twitter (for the moment) here: https://twitter.com/ShentonStage/ (though not as regularly on weekends)