The News That Didn’t Make It: Episode Nine

Each week, our #StageDoorLive News Writer / Researcher Hillary Dziminski chronicles her interaction with the news of the week. Some of it that made it to the show, and other bits that didn’t… but they matter damn it. This week Betty Ann Norton, Sam Mendes, Giving it away for free, and more.

Each week, our #StageDoorLive News Writer / Researcher Hillary Dziminski chronicles her interaction with the news of the week. Some of it that made it to the show, and other bits that didn’t… but they matter damn it. Watch the news that did make it in #StageDoorLive Episode Nine.

Hello again, friends, welcome back to The News That Didn’t Make It. I just want to quickly say that writing this blog is a real pleasure and I’m learning so much about the theatre sector both in Ireland and around the world digging into headlines every week — I hope you’re all enjoying it, too. Thank you to everyone who’s sent me on their theatre and arts news, please do keep it coming! Now, let’s get to it.

Theatre-training legend Betty Ann Norton dies in Dublin

I’d never heard of Betty Ann Norton before I read President Higgins’ statement on her death, but wow; she was some woman for one woman. She taught so many artists and makers that I greatly admire in her 60+ year career, including Emma Donoghue, Peter Crawley, Jim Culleton and so many more. By all accounts, she was an extraordinary woman whose love of theatre lives on in the hundreds of people who learned from her.

Sam Mendes – How we can save our theatres

“It would be ironic if TV streaming services were to make lockdown millions while the very source of our acting, producing, writing and directing talent pool was allowed to die.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this article but I think it’s a super important one, not least of all because Mendes points out that artists and arts workers are a critical part of the economic fabric of the UK (and indeed of Ireland and many other countries). He points out that so many businesses will be able to adapt to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic but for theatre and live performance, it simply isn’t possible. He also doesn’t shy away from pointing out a reality that needs to be very closely examined: a lot of individuals and organisations have made and continue to make millions as a direct result of this pandemic. This is a medium-long read but well worth it for the suggestions made for helping the sector stay afloat and recover and thrive in the long-term.

Giving it away for free – why the performance arts risks making the same mistake newspapers did

So, I wrote about this a little bit in a previous blog entry and it continues to weigh on my mind. While I really appreciate the vast quantity of excellent work currently available for free online (and thoroughly enjoyed the recorded performance of ‘A Monster Calls’) I’m very keen to see a shift towards monetising the work being put in to keeping theatre and live performance in the public eye. For example, the Old Vic recently launched Old Vic: In Camera with a livestreamed performance of Duncan MacMillan’s ‘Lungs’. If any of you tried to get tickets for it, you’ll know that the experience very closely reflected the usual experience of getting tickets to a show. A limited number of “seats” were made available with the usual Old Vic pricing tiers; there were even virtual queues! Tickets sold out before I was able to nab one but that sort of exclusivity actually really worked for me — it felt like a more authentic theatergoing experience, complete with disappointment of not being able to attend.

This article draws a really interesting parallel between the devaluing of newspapers and the devaluing of live performance. Journalists and news outlets are still trying to find their balance again after a major shift towards free news. I think we can learn from the news industry and do as much as possible to ensure that live performance recovers quickly and with a long-term focus.

Theatre Forum – Audience Survey

Great news! Theatre Forum has launched an audience sentiment survey to try to gauge how quickly audiences will be comfortable booking tickets for and attending live performances. This is hugely important to evaluating the financial viability of venues reopening, especially in light of the accelerated reopening announcements made last weekend. If you haven’t filled it out already (and it closes Friday!) please take a few minutes to do so; similar surveys have been carried out in other countries and they are so helpful for generating data on the sector’s need for financial and governmental support.

Coronavirus: Theatre company unveils plans for Covid-safe shows

This 👏 show 👏 sounds 👏 AWESOME 👏

“London-based Histrionic Productions was set up earlier this year, with the aim of using derelict spaces to create “multi-sensory theatrical experiences”, promising a new approach to immersive theatremaking.”

I mean…all the YES. I wish I was in London. I would totally see an immersive socially distanced production of 1984. This is slated to open in April next year so maybe we’ll be able to travel by then. Who’s coming with me? From six feet away, of course.

That’s all for this week, folks, but I just want to take a very quick second to follow up on last week’s blog post. If you read it, you’ll have noticed that I included a little footnote with some resources for keeping up to date with the events surrounding the death of George Floyd and some resource bases for learning more about implicit biases, systemic racism, and much much more. I think it’s important to keep the conversation going and to continue to seek out these resources and to actively participate in learning how to be a better ally and advocate. So for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be including one or two resources every week that I personally have found interesting or helpful. These might be podcast episodes, YouTube videos, Instagram accounts…things that are easy to digest and help me to keep my brain engaged with the many and varied events that happen every day that impact the way the world works. I hope you find them as thought-provoking and helpful as I have!

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Weekly Accomplice Resource(s)

From Ashawnti Sakina Ford, co-founder of Black Ensemble Players, published in Minnesota Playlist digital magazine : Phrases We Should Work to Eliminate in the Rehearsal Room

The Trevor Project : Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth

Vlogbrothers : So Much to Do – A conversation with Maya Rupert

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