You are reading this blog so you don’t need to be introduced to The Stage - published since 1880 and still owned by the Comerford family whose ancestor founded it.
I am astonished, though, how often I meet people (outside the performing arts industry) who look very blank when I mention thus unique specialist weekly. And I had a distinctly surreal conversation the other day with a primary school head teacher I met at a conference. My name badge said ‘The Stage’ so, looking very puzzled, she asked me which stage I was on and what part I played. We talked at cross purposes for quite a while.
Anyway all this set me thinking about how people find The Stage and what part of their education it forms. I suppose if you come from a theatrical family it is simply part of life like The Guardian and The Sunday Times or any other newspapers your parents buy. And many schools have it in their libraries for performance-inclined pupils to read.
My discovery of The Stage was more serendipitous. The home I grew up in was anything but theatrical although I was taken to see musicals and occasionally a straight play. When I was about 10 or 11 I discovered a splendid series of books by Pamela Brown (not, sadly, the actress - this Pamela Brown was a children’s novelist).
With titles like ‘The Swish of the Curtain’ and ‘The Blue Door Theatre’ the novels told the story of a small group of siblings and friends in a provincial town who spent all their spare time creating a small theatre and putting on shows. Eventually one of the girls went to RADA and one of the boys to music college. I loved the books so much that I read them all several times.
Of course, all the Blue Door Theatre members were avid readers of The Stage. And that is how I first heard of it - never dreaming, of course, that I would one day be professionally associated with it.
Given that we carry in The Stage and on The Stage Online such a lot of education and training material relevant to young people wanting to work in the industry, I have two questions:
First, how can we ensure that young people know we are here (short of making Pamela Brown’s novels compulsory reading for all!)?
Second, what was your first encounter with The Stage?