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Pictures, patience and politics

I have always had a distinct lack of sympathy with latecomers in the theatre but recently my patience has been exasperated by a seemingly never ending late arriving crowd every night; it’s like they wait in hiding and pop out 5 minutes after the house lights fade and still want to buy three ice creams and a pint before taking their seats. Let me remind all those with a penchant for arriving late - this is not ok.

I’ve been in this position once and never again. Arriving just 5 minutes late for Anything Goes at Drury Lane and having to be ushered into our seats in the middle of the stalls as the divine Sally Ann Triplett was mid-belt was, to say the very least, mortifying.

It’s not only remarkably off-putting for all those onstage but an all too common nag for those who managed to read their ticket and arrive on time when they have to stand up for Chris and Carol to take their seats. This invariably involves those already seated being hit by shopping bags, being trod on or sending glasses of Rioja into the laps of the people sat next to them as Mr and Mrs Tardy brush past. So not only were you late, but you have appalling spatial awareness?! I’m not sure which is worse…

Late admission policies vary from theatre to theatre and I would hate for someone to miss the show for being stuck on the Victoria line for longer than expected, but I would love to discover a better way of getting latecomers in. Perhaps a reserved area of seats near the door? Bring them in during a scene change? Would an intricate system of pulleys and cogs help? I don’t really know.

There’s also a strange bout of mischievous photographers cropping up at the minute - sat in the front row with a video camera for most of the show in one instance. Naughty. If I had appeared in the latest edition of Celebrity Come Dine With Me on Ice, then perhaps avid fans may be aching for a shot of me in action so to speak. In which case, I’d happily let you pap to your hearts content outside the theatre, even early mornings when I look remarkably like a slightly weathered Bill Oddie.

Yes, of course I understand people wanting to capture snapshot moments from the show but again, the flash of a camera or even the constant amber glow of an ‘on’ switch is nothing but off putting not to mention, against the law. In this case, I’m all for one polite “Please put your camera away you rude [insert expletive here]” and then removing them from the auditorium if they continue.

At the time of writing, the 29.6% cuts to ACE have just been confirmed and we await the more detailed (which I assume means truthful) account of where the money will be slashed. To think that Thatcher cut a comparatively modest 10% of the arts budget, yesterday’s news for art and culture teamed with the worst cuts to the welfare system in almost 60 years make for grim reading. Yes, it’s better than we anticipated but only marginally and I just hope those regularly funded organisations can hold things together under the budgetary strain. I’m sure there will be full comment and discussion on the spending review throughout the day from The Stage and indeed in the coming week so keep checking back for more and add your own thoughts.

You can join the debate online by following The Stage on Twitter (@TheStage), along with several of its contributors including myself (@Grewers) and Mark Shenton (@ShentonStage).

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