The News That Didn’t Make It: Episode 12

Each week, our #StageDoorLive News Writer / Researcher Hillary Dziminski chronicles her interaction with the news of the week. This week, Empty spaces, socially distanced seating, Hamilton 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 Twelve.

Hello readers! Wherever you’re reading from, I hope your weather has been nicer than the relentless wind and rain that we here in Dublin have been subjected to recently. Did I tell you about the time I tried to propagate roses using potatoes? Well the good news is, I’m now growing potatoes. Let’s see some headlines.

Empty Space – Venues and Audiences in the time of Coronavirus

The Royal Theater Carré opens to performances next week

Look at this! Can you imagine seeing a show in this beautiful space, on a comfy couch, surrounded by plants? I can. And I’d like to start a petition that going forward all theatres should adopt this style of seating. It certainly looks a lot more welcoming and comfy than plans for The Wilma theatre in Philadelphia:

This Theater [sic] Plans Dividers to Keep Patrons Socially Distanced

The Wilma is based on Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and they’ve no dates for reopening yet but the new dividers will allow for patrons to be seated in groups up to four people without worrying about being breathed on by other audience members. I’ve seen a few ideas like this bouncing around (and blogged about them, too) and my feelings about this concept change depending on my mood and levels of optimism. Today, I would happily put on a NASA astronaut suit if it meant I could watch a live performance. Particularly after seeing some of these heartbreaking and beautiful photographs by Nina Dunne, showing some of London’s now empty theatre spaces.

Dark Theatres Project – Duke of York’s Theatre © Nina Dunn

A Better Normal – How, Then, Shall We Live?

Our arts scene is elitist and systemically unfair – we should be fighting to change it, not save it

We talked about this last night in our Last Word. The theatre and arts sectors have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to basically hit the reset button on how we operate. Not just in Ireland. This opinion piece from Wales hits the nail on the head:

The arts scene we closed down three months ago was brimming with discrimination, tokenism and elitism. Rather than fix things, we papered over the cracks. We used the same handful of artists of colour and lauded it as a victory for racial equality, while the rest left Wales to find work elsewhere. We put access performances in our schedules and lauded it as a victory for the disabled community, but couldn’t find space to employ them in our companies. We let trans creatives have an event to platform themselves, but gave them no visibility anywhere else.

Ireland is guilty of all of this, too. So as we’re all coming back from this horrible pandemic, we have no excuse not to create a sector that is welcoming, supportive, equitable, and sustainable. For ourselves and for the generations to come. We have had the time to think and to plan; let’s come back with inclusive, intersectional action to make a better industry for all.

‘We need to talk about the money’: Leslie Odom Jr.’s ‘Hamilton’ duels, onstage and off

And part of this Better Normal has to address the financial elements of theatre. Artists and arts workers have proven their worth to society time and time and time and time and time again. But we are widely still expected to survive on thin air. Funding for project creation is viewed as a handout. Profit-share productions where everyone knows there will be no profit is the industry standard. And it is worse for makers who don’t fit the ‘straight, white male’ profile.

The excellent Lian Bell (tune in next week, she’ll be joining us!) has written about power imbalances in the Irish theatre sector and makes a more succinct and eloquent argument than I have:

There are so many good people working in arts organisations, but good people can uphold bad systems if they don’t work actively to fix or reimagine them. And as we have been learning over and over again – from #WakingTheFeminists, to #MeToo, to Black Lives Matter – just because we have inherited a system does not mean it’s a good one.

For additional useful reading on the subject of disparity and inequity in theatre and the arts, I found a lot of value in these stories:

‘Children’s theatre doesn’t have a voice in the wider sector’
Under-appreciated and underfunded, children’s theatre appears to have been forgotten during lockdown. Lyn Gardner speaks to artists to hear how they are coping, adapting and what their hopes are for the future

New Report Highlights ‘Staggering’ Gender Disparity In Irish Radio Airplay
A new report has highlighted the gender disparity in Irish radio airplay. The data compiled by Linda Coogan Byrne lays bare the extent to which men received more airplay than women on radio stations all over the country over the last 12 months.

Photo by Jim Smeal/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock (669531ag)
Carl Reiner
‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ film premiere presented by Warner Bros, Hollywood, Los Angeles, America – 05 Jun 2007

Bits and Pieces – A Few More Unrelated Stories For Which I Cannot Think of a Clever Headline

Welcome to the very untidy final section of this week’s blog. These bits are all important and should definitely be read but are not at all related to one another, so without any pomp or circumstance, here they are.

Clonmel Connected – Clonmel Junction Festival goes online
This one speaks for itself, methinks. Check out the lineup. Excellent.

Covid-19 prejudice akin to 1980s Aids panic, say creators of Diana play
A very interesting preview of a new play about Princess Diana, AIDS, Covid-19, and prejudice.

Programme for the Galway Film Fleadh Revealed with 11 Screen Ireland-supported Features to Screen
Not theatre but still exciting!

Carl Reiner, Comedy Legend and ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’ Creator, Dies at 98
An absolute legend of theatre, television, and film. Rest in peace.

Now. If you’ll excuse me, there is an elusive ray of sunshine currently hanging out in my front garden and if I don’t go outside and bask in it immediately, I will have regrets.

See you next week.
H x


Accomplice Appendix

A great read on terminology/initialism/acronyms and how they can be harmfully reductive and ineffective.
‘Don’t call me BAME’: Why some people are rejecting the term

A long read but a very clear breakdown of the Ireland-specific hierarchies keeping the industry homogenous.
Structural racism and how to embrace minorities in Irish music and the arts

Thanks to Kelly Pena from Finimpact for sharing this guide with us.
#Black Lives Matter: How to Support Black-Owned Small Businesses & Resources

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