The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 12 November 2019
On The Campaign Trail - Actors and theatre staff are being urged to make sure they have made arrangements to vote in next month’s election amid warnings that those working away from home on Christmas shows could be disenfranchised.
Matt Hood, Equity’s assistant general secretary, described the election date as “inconvenient for many”, adding: “For our members, many of whom will be working away from home on tour, in panto or filming, it runs the real risk of them losing their right to vote.”
Thomas Hescott, chief executive of Stage Directors UK, comments: “November and December is an extremely busy time of the year for our members, many of whom are working away from home on Christmas shows. The short notice means many of our members are already away working and so have little opportunity to organise postal ballots. We are concerned that our members will struggle to be able to vote in such an important election.”
Safety First - Theatre staff working at the Piccadilly Theatre on the night its ceiling collapsed have been praised for their “quick and professional actions”. Industry body the Society of London Theatre said front-of-house staff and emergency services handled the situation quickly and safely. “We were immensely impressed with the quick and professional actions of staff and emergency services at the Piccadilly Theatre. More than 1,000 theatregoers were safely and calmly evacuated from the theatre by well-trained staff, who have been commended by many people attending the performance,” it said in a statement.
“The safety of audiences and staff is a key priority for all West End theatre operators. Organisations including the Society of London Theatre, UK Theatre, the Association of British Theatre Technicians and the Theatres Trust work together to ensure theatres throughout the West End and beyond are supported with detailed guidance on building inspections, maintenance and certification,” it said.
The Piccadilly Theatre re-opened yesterday (Monday) with performances of Death of a Salesman resuming. Ambassador Theatre Group said: “Following the incident at the Piccadilly Theatre on Wednesday 6 November, Westminster City Council has granted permission for it to reopen following its final inspection.”
Theatre Funding - A major refurbishment of Camden People’s Theatre is among the projects to receive £12.3m in funding from Arts Council England. The latest round of Small Capital Grants has seen funding awarded to 46 arts organisations across the country to improve their buildings and equipment. Camden People’s Theatre will redevelop its performance, rehearsal and foyer spaces for the first time in 25 years and build a new community cafe using the £250,000 grant. The venue is set to close for a brief period in summer 2020 when the works take place.
Other organisations to receive grants include theatre company Gecko, which was awarded £500,000 for a new creation space in Ipswich, and Sheffield Theatres Trust, which received a grant of £385,250 for the renovation of its front of house. Arts Admin, Hackney Empire and Half Moon Young People’s Theatre in London, Birmingham’s Mac and Nottingham Playhouse are also among the organisations to receive funding.
Moral Character - Canadian-born Neil Young has said his application for US citizenship has been delayed partly because he smokes marijuana. Young says he passed the citizenship test but was told he had to take another to prove "moral character". In April, the US government clarified that using marijuana and other drugs was a "bar to establishing good moral character for naturalisation". Young, who turns 74 this week, has lived in the US since the mid-1960s.
With The Beatles - Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have paid tribute to the photographer behind some of The Beatles most famous album covers, who has died aged 82. Robert Freeman helped define the band's image, especially with the 1963 cover for With The Beatles - their second album. The black and white picture featured simple head shots of the Fab Four in part shadow. Freeman went on to take the photos used on Beatles For Sale, Help!, and Rubber Soul - where the photo was subtly stretched.
Paying tribute online, McCartney said: "People often think that the cover shot for Meet The Beatles of our foreheads in half shadow was a carefully arranged studio shot. In fact it was taken quite quickly by Robert in the corridor of a hotel we were staying in where natural light came from the windows at the end of the corridor.”
Farewell - Virgin Records co-founder Nik Powell has died at the age of 69. Powell had been receiving treatment for cancer. A childhood friend of Richard Branson, the duo’s first business effort involved a budgerigar breeding programme that went very wrong, as did a later Christmas tree project. They fared better with music. Powell was one of the key figures (along with Simon Draper and Tom Newman) in the first decade at Virgin Records and Virgin Music Publishing. It launched in 1973 with first signing Mike Oldfield.
Powell left the music industry to found Palace Pictures with Stephen Woolley in 1982. He was the producer of Neil Jordan films including The Company Of Wolves (1984), Mona Lisa (1986) and The Crying Game (1992). Powell later founded Scala Productions, which was behind films such as Fever Pitch (1997), Twenty Four Seven (1997) and Last Orders (2001). He was director of the National Film And Television School from 2003 to 2017. RIP.
(Jim Evans)
12 November 2019

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