Thursday, 1 November 2007

Déjà vu

I’ve been writing for so long now and my life is so bo-, er, predictable, that I could just recycle old posts all the time. Since I’m still very busy and somewhat lacking in energy this week (mostly because the life force has been sucked out of me by another large organisation and Leonard Cohen wasn't there any longer to revive me) that’s mostly what I’ll do today.

If you haven’t read it already, look at this post Puzzle of the Day and make the following amendments to it:

1) Replace ‘two hours’ by three
2) Add four phone calls (to sort out the mess the Box Office made of my booking)

Oh, OK, if you insist, I’ll elaborate a bit.

This time the performance schedule was less than 1% of the surface of a huge, double-sided sheet full of blah blah about how wonderful the plays will be (yeah, right, that’s if anyone is actually able to book for them).

Next spring, the RSC are doing Shakespeare’s Histories so the plays are called Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and 2, Henry V, and Henry VI Part 1, 2 and 3, Richard III. In that tiny strip of a schedule, the titles of the plays are printed in a very narrow (well, there’s no space, is there?), very thick, very black typeface and, to make matters worse, everything is in Roman numerals – Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part II, Henry VI Part I, Henry VI Part II... you get the message. You need a magnifying glass to distinguish them from one another. I was told earlier today that Roman numerals were used because they look ‘posher’ (yes, that person works there; no, I won’t tell you who it is; you can torture me if you like: I have to protect my sources).

There were other things that were confusing in that booking form, but I will spare you. I wouldn't want you to be as stressed by it as I was.

Now I have to send back the wrong tickets. I was given a Freepost address to send them to, ‘... so you won’t have to pay for postage.’ Wow, thanks! Did the person (I can give you the name of that one if you like) think I should be grateful for that, after all that wasted time?

Cliffhanger: will I ever get the correct tickets? Stay tuned.

Slapping the RSC! Again!

Update (13/11/07): Tickets for the correct date did turn up eventually. I will be going to the theatre every week for two months next year: I used to go three times a week all year round when I was younger, but I might not be up to it these days. We'll see.


  1. are you a member? i recently joined up so i could get priority booking. if you have a problem, let me know cos i can easily get into the box office at stratford and pick up what you want.

  2. I hadn't read that post before. So things have not improved since 2005 I take it. Sad indeed.

    BUT, and that's a big, big BUT, you do have the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. Pity me, 'cause there is nothing, nothing, nothing like that here.

    Hope you get the correct tickets in time!

  3. That is so kind of you, but I have been a member of the RSC mailing list for 38 years, and I was trying to book tickets during the priority period. If you've recently joined you won't have enjoyed a time when it was easy: tickets were available for any nights, including Press Nights (now they don't sell tickets for those during the priority period and sometimes I ask myself whether I dreamed all those Press Night parties I went to in the past), no booking fees - just as it should be. No one made you feel as if they were doing you a favour by selling you a ridiculously expensive ticket. Now it's a nightmare, every single time. I won't even mention, because otherwise I will become apoplectic again, the fact that they're only in London for two months since they vacated the Barbican, which means that one has to cram a whole year of theatregoing in a few short weeks.

    Anyway, thanks again for the offer. Could you go and slap the Box Office 'ladies' for me, please?

  4. TLP, you slipped in while I was writing.

    The RSC have no London home now: every year, they have to find a theatre that will have them for a few weeks (this time it'll be the Roundhouse in Camden, not the most easily accessible theatre in London. They used to perform at the Barbican: it was wonderful. And then one of their stupid artistic directors decided to remove them from there (the reasons he gave were idiotic) and that was it - that's when all the hassle started. Life's too short...

    I suppose I should be grateful they perform here at all. I'm sorry you're deprived of that kind of thing.

    Thanks, I hope so too. :-)

  5. that whole barbican fiasco was a ... fiasco. the barbican was an IDEAL place for the rsc - you can even park and it's served by several tube lines. i'm told it was adrian noble who insisted on leaving - i'd gladly give him a good hard slap for that ... and many other things. apparently they also had to pay a huge penalty to the barbican admin - quite rightly - because they pulled out in the middle of a contract. cretins! no-one had thought of that.
    i worked in the press office for a short while a very long time ago (remember plantagets?) and i do agree fings ain't wot they used to be ... but there again, is anything?
    (i appear to have woken up grumpy)

  6. You're absolutely correct: it was Adrian Noble (a great director but a lousy administrator) who was responsible for the fiasco. He had this idea that it was bad for the RSC to have a 'base' in London; he thought it would be better as a 'touring' company. As if the RSC was like any other provincial troupe! Since then, it's been 'homeless' and just as desperate as a homeless person. In fact, it has ceased to exist as a London company. Two short months, not even at the height of the tourist season (i.e. missing out on the American love of British theatre) means it's 'invisible'. Not everyone can travel to Stratford every two minutes. I used to, but I can't now. One used to go to S/A because one wanted to see the prods in the RST and because quite often there would be cast changes in London later, but one always had a chance to see all the plays in London.

    They did have to pay a penalty and they lost the subsidy they used to get from the City of London Corporation. Who in their right mind spits on that kind of money?! It took the RSC 20 years to move into the Barbican (I have newspaper cuttings talking about 'next year at the Barbican' going back to the mid-'60s). They get there, stay for a while and then leave. Madness!

    I do remember The Plantagenets. Anton Lesser reprised the part that created such a sensation in 1977. And it made Ralph Fiennes known to the public, of course.

    Did you know Diana Minchall, by any chance? She used to work in the Press Office, although she may have already left by then.

  7. Perhaps the right tickets are in Newcastle visiting your tax return.

  8. no i didn't know diana. i'm straining my memory to remember anyone who was around at that time. if i do, i'll get back to you. your analysis of the rsc thing is exact! they effectively ceased to be a national company that very moment.
    a couple of people in the know have told me some things that explain why that very irrational decision was taken - but why oh why did no-one dare to contradict him?

  9. Rg, you didn't miss much, that's all I'm prepared to say about the woman.

    Oh, would you care to elaborate on what you said? Why did they leave the Barbican, if it wasn't b/c of a stupid whim?


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