The Week in Lighting & Sound
Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Doorstepping - Actors Maria Friedman and Adrian Der Gregorian have launched a new production company to take the West End to the nation’s doorsteps. Backed by theatre figures including Cameron Mackintosh, Nica Burns and Sonia Friedman, well as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, Doorstep Productions will stage personalised performances from hit shows, in full costume, on streets, driveways and in gardens across the UK.
It is promising a "song-and-dance spectacle" featuring up to six performers, with audiences able to choose songs and scenes from shows including Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, The Phantom of the Opera and Dreamgirls. The company will also be offering a Dickensian carol singing experience over the festive period.
Alongside Der Gregorian, who is her husband, Friedman has assembled a group of West End actors, singers, musicians and dancers, who will travel across the country to stage the socially distanced shows. "Everything seems to be deliverable these days, so why not the West End?" she said. Prices for the performances will be bespoke, but a fully costumed performer within London will cost around £250. With each booking, Doorstep Productions will make a donation to theatre charities.
National Streams - The National Theatre has launched a streaming service for its archive of filmed plays, which feature stars like Dame Helen Mirren and Olivia Colman. National Theatre at Home will make plays available for either a one-off payment or a subscription. They include Dame Helen's Phèdre, Medea starring Helen McCrory and Michaela Coel, and Adrian Lester's Othello. Many have previously been shown in cinemas, and some were streamed for free during the first lockdown.
Lisa Burger, the National's executive director, said the venture would "continue to provide audiences with the power and joy of theatre for as long as it is needed". New titles will be added each month. They will available online and on smart TV and mobile apps, with payment options including an annual subscription costing £100.
Subtitles - A late decision has been made to subtitle The Pogues singer Shane MacGowan for this week's UK release of a documentary about his life. The film, titled Crock Of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan, was sent to the press without subtitles. But after some said it was hard to work out what the star was saying, subtitles have been added for the cinema release.
Director Julien Temple said he accepted the "strange mixture of Irish and English" could be tricky to make out. Temple told the BBC it was not his choice to add subtitles, but acknowledged that listening to the singer's speaking voice could be "an acquired listening skill" at times. "We certainly knew that in the States we would have to possibly subtitle it," he said. "In the end it is a decision for the distributors to make."
Altitude Films is distributing the feature in the UK and Ireland. When it is released on-demand and on DVD on 7 December, viewers will be given the option of whether to use the subtitles. The film will also be shown on BBC Four next year.
Elitist - Equity general secretary Paul W Fleming has warned that the theatre industry will become “more elitist and less representative” because of the failure of government financial support schemes put in place during the pandemic. In his first address as general secretary to the Special Representative Conference – usually called the Annual Representative Conference – Fleming called for more support from the government and also repeated calls for funding decisions to be made at a regional level by local boards.
Referring to delegates as "comrades", Fleming said the sector was experiencing “a pandemic of precarity which has lasted decades”. He added, “For the 90 years of our union’s life we have battled against insecure work and low wages, but the structure of funding, the market, training and society has created such uncertainty that coronavirus was a catalyst, not a cause, of our industry’s existential crisis.” he said.
In The Spotlight - Drake has topped the list of most-streamed Spotify artists in the UK this year. The rapper beat Juice WRLD for the title, with Eminem third, Ed Sheeran fourth, and The Weeknd fifth. Despite not releasing any new music this year, Sheeran was the most popular British artist in the UK on the streaming platform - ahead of Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Lewis Capaldi and Harry Styles.
(Jim Evans)
1 December 2020

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