Behind the scenes #LoveTheatre Day

#LOVETHEATREDAY IS A CELEBRATION OF ALL THINGS STAGE. FOR A PRODUCTION TO TAKE PLACE, MANY BEES ARE WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES TO ENSURE WE REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE, WITH THE BEST POSSIBLE WORK. HERE ARE SOME OF THE ENGLISH TOURING OPERA BEES…

JOHN HOLMES, HEAD OF MARKETING

What is your role at English Touring Opera, what does it mean?
I’m Head of Marketing. That means a looking after a lot of things, all coming under the banner of making sure as many people as possible attend ETO’s performances at theatres across the country.

What’s the most exciting thing you do there?
Attend performances and getting to meet audiences at venues on the tour. Otherwise, why do we do it?

What’s the biggest challenge faced by the performing arts today? How is ETO doing its bit?
Short-term thinking and lack of creativity. There’s a risk that by trying to screw as much money as possible out of the audiences of today, the arts as a whole alienates the audiences of the future. An example is the increasing insistence of many theatres to charge booking and transaction fees when buying a ticket. This creates a further barrier to attendance and, importantly, reduces the amount of money going back to the artists who create and perform the work. At ETO, we do our best to lobby our venues to keep ticket prices low, particularly for children and young people. We also provide exciting, different programmes of opera for adults and children that don’t just rely on a few well-known old titles.

Do you recall a particular #LoveTheatre moment? 
Al Seed’s The Factory at the Leeds Metropolitan University Studio Theatre in 2006. Until then, I’d largely assumed theatre was a polite, uncontroversial business lacking the counter-cultural spirit of great literature or punk music. An hour of comic noise terror later my mind had changed for ever – never had I simultaneously wanted to escape a theatre and been so engrossed in my whole life.

A tough one: favourite opera of. all time?
Easy. The first full length opera I ever saw – Handel’s Flavio staged by ETO at Exeter Northcott Theatre back in 2009. I was working for the Northcott at the time, and met James Conway (ETO’s General Director) and Jim Follett (then ETO press officer) before the show, who persuaded me to give Handel a try. I don’t know if musicologically this makes any sense, but there’s a gentleness to this aria (from 2.20 in the video) that makes me think as much about folk music as it does opera.

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