March is always a big month in the theatre world as it brings with it the Olivier Award nominations for each year. Alongside this, undoubtedly some of the most talked about topics in theatre this month have been the exploitation of technical workers, and the use of social media by actors (both mentioned later in this article).
The exploitation of technical workers is largely in reference to jobs at Edinburgh Fringe - most of which only allow technical teams to break-even across the month; they would be lucky to make even a small profit. Some of these organisations skirted around the issue by saying that the jobs were advertised as ‘volunteer work’, so the workers knew they weren’t getting paid much.
This is a topic close to my heart, as a worker in technical theatre myself, and I have often struggled with the issue of technicians not being paid well for their work.
Do you think it’s acceptable to pay workers barely anything on the pretext that they are ‘volunteers’ gaining experience, or do you think everyone should have the opportunity to take on a better paying job, regardless of whether they are a professional or not?
Read the article about C Venues below, and leave a comment with your opinion at the bottom. I look forward to reading your thoughts.
Olivier Awards 2019 Nominations
Musicals ‘Company’ and ‘Come From Away’ lead this years nominations, whilst new musical ‘Six’, which started out at Edinburgh Fringe before transferring to the Arts Theatre in London, collected 5 nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for all six of the ‘Queens’. ‘The Inheritance’ also leads nominations, ranging from Best Supporting Actress to Outstanding Achievement in Music.
Matthew Bourne will be honoured at this year’s awards for his ‘extraordinary achievements in dance’, which will be his 8th award, making him the joint holder of the most Olivier Awards, alongside Dame Judi Dench.
WhatsOnStage Awards 2019
The 19th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards took place on Sunday 3 March at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Among the winners were ‘Hamilton’ which took home five awards, and ‘Heathers the Musical’ which won Best New Musical. Carrie Hope Fletcher won Best Actress in a Musical, and director Michael Grandage took home the Equity Award for Services to Theatre. It was also a good night for ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, which won Best Musical Revival, Best Set Design and Best Show Poster, and the award show was hosted by Vicky Vox, who also starred in it.
Other winners included ‘Company’, ‘The Inheritance’ and ‘Six the musical’.
Edinburgh Fringe News
There has been a fair amount of drama surrounding working conditions at Edinburgh Fringe over the last six months or so, after it was made public the extent some companies will go to when it comes to exploiting their staff. C Venues (one of the major venues at the Fringe) has come under fire after it was publicised that they hire workers as volunteers for the festival, paying them £200 for the month, which works out at around 50p an hour.
Last month, C Venues had the tenancy revoked on their main performance space by the University of Edinburgh, following an annual audit of their employment practices. This was followed by C Venues being removed from their George Street venue at the beginning of March. Spokesmen for C Venues have argued that they have always been upfront about their Volunteer Team being volunteers, but the Fair Fringe campaign are ‘thrilled’ at the results. What do you think?
Source: The Stage
The Colour Purple - lead actress no longer involved
Producers have confirmed that actress Seyi Omooba will no longer be involved in the tour of The Colour Purple. Omooba was due to play the lead role of Celie, who has a gay relationship, but concerns were raised after a Facebook post she wrote in 2014 surfaced, in which she claimed: “I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right. [Even] though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Producers from both the Curve and Birmingham Hippodrome made a joint statement saying she would no longer be appearing in the cast, although it has not been made clear whose decision this was. It has also been reported that Omooba’s agency, Global Artists, is no longer listing her as a client.
Source: Theatre Weekly
Virtual Reality Theatre Platform
A streaming service providing a 360-degree virtual reality experience for theatre has been launched in an aim to make theatre ‘more accessible to all’. The platform, called LIVR allows users to use an app on their mobile phones to stream live performances, and watch them through a virtual reality headset which is included with the service.
A subscription costs £5.99 a month and allow users to unlock a show of their choice each month to watch. So far, LIVR has captured 100 performances, and plans to add eight new shows to the platform each month. This new app would allow people to catch shows they otherwise would have missed, and allows the performer's and creative’s shows to live on after their runs end. While it’s not the same as the real thing, this is the closest technology has come so far to recreating the experience of the theatre.
Source: The Stage
9 to 5 Announces UK Tour
9 to 5 the Musical has announced that a ‘second production’ of the musical will open in Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre on September 6th before touring the UK until November. The musical will play 11 cities, including Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Dublin and Cardiff.
The cast for the tour is yet to be announced.
Source: Theatre Weekly
Frozen Announces UK Debut
The stage adaptation of the Disney film made its Broadway debut last year, and will reopen the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London in Autumn 2020 after the theatre’s refurbishment is complete.
The show has largely the same storyline as the film, although extra songs have been written for the stage version.
Source: BBC News
Closure fears for Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre
Due to financial issues, the Kenneth More Theatre operator has been forced to cancel all shows from July onwards. The theatre is owned by Redbridge council and operated by Redbridge Theatre Company, and was receiving a subsidy of £157,000 a year, until the funding was pulled in July 2018.
A spokesman from the theatre has said that the loss of subsidy has made it near impossible to run the theatre. The company will take a hiatus to work out how to proceed without funding, if it is possible at all.
Source: The Stage
Student lands lead in Joseph Revival
The London Palladium revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat announced that 21-year-old Arts Ed student Jac Yarrow will take on the lead role of Joseph in the production this summer.
He joins Sheridan Smith, playing the narrator, and Jason Donovan, who returns to the production to play Pharoah. The production runs from 27 June - 8 September 2019.
White Christmas Announces West End Transfer
The Leicester Curve production of White Christmas, directed by Nikolai Foster and starring Danny Mac, announces its West End transfer to the Dominion Theatre for the Christmas period this year. The rest of the West End cast is yet to be confirmed, but Dan Burton will be reprising his role alongside Danny Mac.
It will be running from 15 November 2019 to 4 January 2020, and tickets went on sale on 25 March.
Source: London Theatre Direct