Off with Tina to Central School of Speech and Drama this evening to see their MA Musical Theatre students' pantomime. Tina's brother Tony has been supervising and together with the company created a new version of Cinderella performed in four quarters. I'm wondering whether it wouldn't be a bad assignment to bring into Applied Theatre as an introduction to popular theatre. The work tonight was blissfully engaging, fun filled and unapologetic. Unsurprisingly the students seemed to love the licence.
The most impressive part of the evening was how proud everybody was to be associated with both the production and the institution. We were greeted warmly by the front of house who kept attentive to us whilst we waited to go in, before being shown with calm, confident smiles to our seats. There was no sense of competition or precociousness, just a genuine desire to put the audience at the heart of the evening.
We still haven't quite got this aspect of our work right at St Mary's where the foyer is a crush on show nights, the audience are not allowed access to the auditorium until the last moment and commands are barked out over loud speakers or through unnecessary mics.
I'm equally unsure that our present policy, of selling tickets a week in advance by 'mugging' people as they enter the refectory rather than through a sensibly run box office, serves us well. It does provide publicity beyond the print material that circulates around but I'm not sure it wins us many friends outside of the department and perhaps it even occasionally antagonises other members of the college community? I wonder whether a longer game, publicising a season of work in advance and having tickets available for all our work at once, might help us to establish the theatre as an essential part of the University's cultural life and make us seem less ragged and unorganised?