Just a reminder that public voting is soon to close for the 20th annual WhatsOnStage Awards.
This is your chance to participate in the only awards directly voted for by the theatregoing public.
You have until Monday 27th January to cast your votes, with the winners being announced at a ceremony at the Prince of Wales Theatre on March 1st.
Don’t miss your chance to influence the vote. You can get voting here
OFFIES Awards 2020 – vote for your favourite theatres
The OFFIES, or Off West End Theatre Awards, released their awards shortlists on January 9th. You can find the shortlist here.
Although you cannot vote in the show awards, you do have a chance to vote for your favourite Off West End theatres!
The People’s Vote (formerly the Public Vote) offers you the opportunity to vote for your favourite theatre venue in nine award categories. And the voting is now open. You’ll need to vote before 21st February by completing a form which you can find here
Finalists will be announced on Monday 24 Feb 2020 via Twitter, and then a list of finalists will appear on the OFFIES website.
All the winners will be announced at the OFFIES Awards event on 8 March 2020 at Battersea Arts Centre.
The Cost of Cutting Culture – can a creative education close the business skills gap?
A lively and engrossing discussion formed the majority of the Lord Mayor’s Gresham College Lecture on Thursday 9th January, attended by a packed audience and a knowledgeable panel including William Russell, Lord Mayor of London, and the directors of the City of London’s key cultural institutions: Kathryn McDowell CBE, DL, MD of the London Symphony Orchestra, Lynne Williams who is Principal of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Sir Nicholas Kenyon CBE, MD of the Barbican Centre, and Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London.
Introduced by the Lord Mayor, he made the points that over the last twenty years the tech companies have replaced the oil and engineering firms as as the world’s largest employers, with a raft of implications for what the jobs of tomorrow will look like.
With the changing demands at work, and the threat of automation to 40% of the UK’s current jobs, creative skills are becoming more important and desirable in the workplace. The so- called “Fusion Skills” – social, analytical and creative skills – will progressively play a larger part in the job descriptions of many future UK Jobs.
The alarming situation is that there is a genuine demotion of the arts in the UK school curriculum. The arts are not represented at GCSE Level at all.
The UK’s future workplaces will need to attract the best candidates by offering creative work environments but also extensions of that out into the environment. People aspire to work and live in areas like Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Camden, as they are seen to have a creative vibe which enriches their environments.
Culture Mile is a move to create a similar creative hub destination, a creative partnership between The Barbican Centre, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the LSO and the Museum of London. It aims to create a thriving and intriguing cultural community which runs from Farringdon to Moorgate- the Culture Mile.
The discussion covered what businesses can do to support and drive creativity, and the role of the Culture Mile in supporting a creative society.
Each organisation outlines the way that their work has developed to encompass outreach and life-long learning opportunities in the community, with particular drive to unlock each person’s creativity. The links between culture ,commerce and finance were also discussed.
Questions from the audience included issues such as sponsorship, digital services, and the work of creating a cultural community which could call Culture Mile its home- central to this being affordable housing.
So, lots to enjoy and lots to think about for the future, in a very listenable hour.
You can watch or listen to the whole event via the link here.
For anyone who lives in or is visiting Bristol within the next few weeks, there is a very interesting exhibition at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, one of the world’s largest archives of British theatre history. Until February 28th, the Collection hosts “Talking Audiences”, an exhibition which is the culmination of two years of archival research by Dr Kirsty Sedgman into the Bristol Old Vic as part of her British Academy postdoctoral Fellowship project.
Nearly lost in the late 1940s, when under threat of being sold off as a warehouse, the Bristol theatre was built in 1766 as the Theatre Royal, and was one of the first successes of the Arts Council of Great Britain’s remit of making great theatre available across the country. Linked to London’s Old Vic, the relationship had its stresses and strains, but the theatre thrives to this day, long after the link has fallen away.
Although the theatre’s journey was an uneven one, the exhibition traces the ups and downs of these early years intercut with audience reactions, which makes a fascinating look at how a venue interacts with those it seeks to engage with.
The stunning Apollo Victoria Theatre is 90 this year, and celebrations include a rare chance to take a tour of the theatre’s foyers and auditorium. The next is on Saturday 8th February at 11.00am.
Opened as the New Victoria Theatre on 15th October 1930 , it was designed for Provincial Cinematograph Theatres(PCT) by William Edward Trent and Ernest Wamsley Lewis, seating over 2,500, this was a huge new entrant into London’s entertainment world .
The exteriors (two almost identical facades) are strongly Germanic and assume great authority on the street. The foyers and auditorium have nautical themes, with the fabulous auditorium resembling an undersea palace, filled with glass stalactites and a lavish attention to design detail. Designed to play the then-popular cine-variety (films plus short stage shows which bracketed the films), it had adequate stage and dressing room facilities for these purposes. When cinemas tailed off in popularity it was the stage facilities which saved the venue from demolition.
The cinematic legacy is a high capacity with excellent sightlines. In an extensive 2002 restoration, the auditorium was returned to its original glory with the original 3,500 auditorium lights being replaced by 88,000 LEDs, making it (as I believe) the first auditorium to be lit in this way.
The vast crowds which ebb and flow through the building at showtimes sometimes make it had to see details, so these limited-number tours are a great way to see the building without having to elbow your way through the masses.
Information from the theatre owner ATG states that “the tour lasts approximately 90 minutes. Tea, coffee and soft drinks will be offered. This tour will use routes that include steps.” Tickets are priced at £15 and can be obtained via the ATG website here.
Maybe I’ll see you there?
Read more about the theatre’s history at the Theatre trust website here
Stage Doorkeeper Jill Hudson was the first person
I met walking into the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1986. For the next 31 years
she was the first person most people saw.
Jilly was a smart lady with a big heart and an even larger presence; she ruled the Stage Door with a friendly smile, a quick mind, a calm demeanour – and considerable authority.
The news that Jill has died on January 6th after living with cancer for some time, just a few days after her birthday (on New Year’s Day), is a sad moment for myself and all those thousands of show-people who came across her, and recognised her as a happy part of Drury Lane’s glittering history.
She started at Drury Lane like me, in 1986, on the original five-year run of 42nd STREET, an incredibly happy show which had a real family atmosphere thanks to the warm-hearted management of General Manager Bill Cronshaw. Jill left in late 2017 due to illness, interestingly during the revival of 42nd STREET (which ran at the theatre for nearly two years until January 2019). She did say to me in 2017 that she wanted to retire on the last night of the show, but sadly that wasn’t to be.
For 31 years a favourite with the large casts which filled the Lane, the stage door was really Jilly’s home, with assorted cards and gifts from previous celebrity (and non-celebrity) friends, soft toys and of course Chelsea FC memorabilia. Visitors buzzed in and out constantly, always welcomed and the kettle was always on for a brew and a chat whenever time permitted.
Jilly knew how to be firm whilst being pleasant, qualities which many a visitor appreciated, and in terms of working relationships you knew just where you were with Jill- and it worked both ways. She was the best.
She will not be forgotten by those many people who met her, laughed with her and enjoyed her warm and happy Tannoy messages- especially keeping people up to date on sports event back in the days before mobile phones. Indeed, Twitter and Instagram have lit up with tributes since the news of her passing emerged – proof, if any were needed, that Jill was more loved than even she may have even known!
My thoughts and heartfelt wishes go out to her
family and loved ones.
Thanks for all the happy memories, Jilly. Drury Lane will never be quite the same again.