Alienating Audiences - Expensive ticket prices risk alienating audiences and exposing theatre workers to “further vulnerability”, BECTU head Philippa Childs has warned. The union boss was addressing recent uproar caused by the West End production of Cock increasing its top-priced seats to £400, before reducing them to £175 following a social media backlash. Childs described the “steep rise” in ticket prices as “deeply concerning for a sector that is trying to get back to pre-pandemic audience levels”.
“When faced with soaring ticket rates amid the ever-increasing cost-of-living crisis, audiences will have little choice but to cut back on the expense of going to the theatre, leaving productions out of pocket and exposing workers to further vulnerability,” she said.
The BECTU head also argued that increased ticket prices were not being reflected in workers’ pay. “The shutdown of the industry during the pandemic prompted many to leave the theatre industry in search of alternative work that provided better terms and conditions, resulting in a significant skills shortage across the sector. Poor pay is a major contributor to this issue and will continue to harm the industry if the problem is not addressed,” she warned.
Breakout Cancelled - A three-day music festival in Fife featuring Midge Ure and Big Country has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. The inaugural Kirkcaldy Breakout Festival was due to take place on the town's Esplanade from 27 -29 May. But organisers have confirmed the event, which would have raised money for the NHS, will now no longer go ahead.
The event's main stage was to be named in honour of local singer Paige Dougall, 17, who died in January after a two-year battle with a Ewing's Sarcoma, a disease which attacks the bones. In a statement posted on Facebook on Friday organisers said the decision to cancel had been taken with "enormous regret". It continued: "The current economic climate has contributed to a level of ticket sales that make live events unviable. We would like to offer all our thanks to all the bands, partner agencies and suppliers who have continued to give us their full support right to the last minute."
Second Again - Sam Ryder took second place in the UK singles chart, a week after he claimed the runner-up spot at the Eurovision Song Contest. His song, Space Man, was in a battle with Harry Styles to be this week's number one after his much-praised performance for the UK in Turin. But Styles narrowly won out to claim his seventh week in a row at the top.
By reaching number two, Ryder has scored the highest chart placing for a UK Eurovision entry since 1996. That was the year when Gina G reached the top spot with Ooh Ahh . . . Just A Little Bit.
Northern Stage - Members of Northern Stage’s young company have made a documentary marking the first 50 years of the venue, which includes an interview with Sting. The documentary, which was begun in 2020 - the theatre’s 50th year - has been described as a “powerful look” at the role of the theatre and its youth company, and the challenges it has faced.
Kris Deedigan, who project managed the film, says: “The documentary not only looks at the 50 years of the theatre but the two years of how the theatre responded to COVID.” He added that the company interviewed Sting because he did his first ever professional gig there, playing in the band for Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The documentary also features actor Val McLane, sister of Jimmy Nail, who occupied the building with other performers in 1977 when the council tried to close the theatre due to lack of funds.
Farewell - Greek composer Vangelis, who was known for his celebrated film themes for Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, has died at the age of 79. He won an Oscar for the stirring score to 1981's Chariots of Fire. Paying tribute, the film's producer Lord Puttnam told the BBC Vangelis had created “a new musical landscape”. Others sharing their memories ranged from French musician Jean-Michel Jarre to Dutch trance DJ Armin van Buuren, who said he was “a big inspiration.”
(Jim Evans)
24 May 2022

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