What do they know of theatre who only theatre know?
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House really is a wonderful institution — not only does it stage world-class operas in their original languages, but its senior staff have all the tact of reckless rhinos and the sensitivity of gutter rats. When it was revealed that Tony Hall, the ROH’s chief executive, earns more than £390,000 a year while Antonio Pappano, the conductor and musical director, earns £630,000, it was clear that this is a national scandal. The salaries, as the Telegraph points out, “are far higher than anywhere else in the publicly-funded arts world, and have raised concerns that ‘fat cat’ culture has spread from business leaders to cultural elites.” If you think about it, the truth is mind-boggling: at a time when lots of small arts groups are facing an end to their subsidy, which is often less than the salaries of each of these individuals, the ROH fat rats are shamelessly racking it in! Simon Robey, chairman of the ROH Board of Trustees, is naturally a silver-tongued apologist for this state of affairs. He thinks it’s all fine. What complacency, what arrogance! The stink of this gent’s arguments is so high that I’m almost fainting as I type. Can’t the Arts Council, which funds the ROH with our money, do something about this iniquitous, ludicrous and, yes, unfair system? And let’s get rid of Robey — he is a real callous swine.
“There’s nothing more terrifying than a teenager with something to say! You mark my words gel, you’ll be running this country! Even if you’re too pig ignorant to see it now!” (Glenda in Clara Brennan’s Spine)
Aleks Sierz is author of In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today (Faber, 2001), The Theatre of Martin Crimp (Methuen Drama, 2006), John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (Continuum, 2008), Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today (Methuen Drama, 2011) and Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s (Methuen Drama, 2012). He is editor of The Methuen Drama Book of 21st Century British Plays (2010) and co-editor (with Martin Middeke and Peter Paul Schnierer) of The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights (2011). He is a member of the UK Critics' Circle and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. A journalist, broadcaster and theatre critic at large, he is also Senior Research Fellow at Rose Bruford College and teaches postwar British theatre at the London branch of Boston University.