The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
Audience Comfort - Ambassador Theatre Group chief executive Mark Cornell has claimed theatres need to look to cinemas to improve audience comfort, arguing theatregoers are having to endure “seats designed like torture instruments”. Cornell made the comments during his first major speech to members of the industry at UK Theatre’s Theatre and Touring Symposium, which took place in London on 17 June.
He said: “[Audiences] arrive at our theatres at a time set by us, they then navigate queues, fold themselves into seats designed like torture instruments, dine on a packet of crisps or a tub of ice cream and often endure temperatures that fluctuate between Siberia and the subcontinent.
“Yet cinema chains such as the Everyman have reinvented the experience of going to the movies. They provide a wonderful, enriching experience, which everyone should really enjoy regularly at the theatre. Today we’re asking people to work really hard for the privilege [of going to the theatre]. In a world where we expect everything to be connected, seamless, easy and immediate, this is not sustainable.”
Cornell also raised the issue of ticket prices, arguing that the commercial operators shared a responsibility with the subsidised sector to keep theatre affordable. “I’m afraid there’s a huge amount of misinformation surrounding theatre pricing. One misconception is that keeping theatre affordable is the reserve of the subsidised sector. I strongly believe that we all share a responsibility in this area, whether we operate in the subsidised or commercial sector,” he said.
“For subsidised theatre, it’s part of their mission and contractual obligation. For commercial theatre, such as ATG, keeping theatre affordable just makes good business sense. If we want to keep growing, we need to keep attracting large audiences to our theatres.”
Manchester Mayfield - A former train depot in Manchester that has lain empty for more than 30 years could be brought back to life as a theatre and music venue if plans for a major new development are approved. The disused Mayfield Depot, next to Manchester’s Piccadilly station, has been used to stage occasional entertainment events. However, the new proposals include opening up the 12,500sq.m of floor space to be used all year round. This would include “theatre, music, dance and performance-related activities”, as well as cinema screenings, immersive events, art exhibitions and food and drink festivals.
The depot sits in an area of the city that is slated for a £1.1 billion regeneration, and the plans for the depot are being put forward by the Mayfield Partnership, which was set up to oversee the wider redevelopment of the area. This application is asking to create the entertainment venue for a temporary period of five years, to “generate activity in advance of the comprehensive redevelopment” and build a “unique sense of place” in the area. Plans include dividing the building into three separate performance areas, with a total capacity of about 10,000 people.
Who’s Sorry Now? - Geri Horner apologised for quitting the Spice Girls as the group took to the stage for the final night of their reunion tour. "I need to say something I should have said a long time ago," she said to the 70,000 fans in London's Wembley Stadium. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I left. I was just being a brat. It is so good to be back with the girls that I love." Horner left the group in 1998 - just two years before the group split.
(Jim Evans)
18 June 2019

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