Archive for October, 2012

I Love Australia

Posted in Theatre, Ticketing, Travel with tags , on October 20, 2012 by richardhowle

I am currently  sitting in an airport lounge, a glass of Shiraz by my side waiting to fly back home from a country I love, Australia.

I am lucky that my work has provided me with lots of opportunities to travel but, although I have been in here several times before, I was last in Australia in 2008. It is a fantastic country that feels like a home from home. The setting is spectacular, the weather is fantastic, the atmosphere is relaxed and the people are polite, courteous and incredibly friendly.

Like all my previous trips this was a flying visit, in and out for a week, but I would love to come here properly, on holiday, to really get to know the place.  I am very lucky in that over the years I have made some good friends, both whilst I have been here and in London, who have always looked after me when I have travelled Down Under, shown me great hospitality – but I would really love to travel here with Paul and experience the joys of this fantastic country without having to dash from meeting to meeting.

This trip started in Melbourne, where arriving on a Sunday night ahead of a Monday morning start is a fantastic way to beat the jet lag, which I have thankfully (on the whole) managed to avoid. aka now have two offices in Australia, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney – in Melbourne I was there to do some consultancy for one of our clients,  the Arts Centre Melbourne.

It was also an opportunity to catch up with a couple of ticketing types from London who have now relocated to the city, Damian Murphy – formerly of Ticketmaster and Dawn Walker – formerly of the Victoria Palace Theatre. It was a lovely  evening, great to catch up with old friends and to visit bars and restaurants that I would never discovered as a tourist.

I was also able to spend some time with the incredibly talented Kendra Reid, who runs aka Australia, and her wonderful partner John Lloyd Fillingham. John is an old friend of Paul’s and his name has been part of our relationship for the past 16 years, so it was great to finally meet this man who Paul holds in such high regard. Another fantastic night. I was also able to catch up with Brett Haylock, the genius creative  producer of one of my all time favourite shows, La Soiree, which has just opened in Melbourne. Late night drinks with him and some of the La Soiree acts meant for a fuzzy head the next morning, but it was definitely worth it.

Then, before I knew it, it was time to depart for Sydney to spend time in aka’s newest office which is headed up by my fantastic friend, Amy Maiden. I was really excited to get there, much as I like Melbourne, I LOVE Sydney. It really is my kind of town. In my view, if you were to design a perfect city, you would design Sydney. Not only is it set in spectacular surrounding, never far from the water – it also has a really easy vibe about it. The city motto could almost be “G’day mate – do you fancy a beer”. It really is a kick off your shoes and relax type of place, even if you are there on business.

Alongside London and New York, Sydney is my favourite city in the world.

After a couple of days of  meetings, including with our clients Global Creatures (who are the producers of Walking with Dinosaurs, are producing War Horse in Australia, have just launched their new musical King Kong and are in pre production for Strictly Ballroom), my working week was over.

But I still had a day left and what a day it was. Meeting up with ex -London aka-er Yolande Phillips and her gorgeous daughter Elouise, we joined the beautiful Angela Gahan and her family to spend a day on their boat in the harbour. It was a glorious day, sun shining, temperature in the low 30’s and Sydney looking spectacular. Drinking champagne with fantastic friends as we motored through one of the world’s greatest natural harbours in beautiful weather I struggled to think if life could get any better than this. There was just one way it could be, if Paul had been there too.

Why I work in the theatre

Posted in Theatre with tags , on October 4, 2012 by richardhowle

I am really lucky to work in theatre. So many people do soul destroying jobs in industries that they hate or that no one cares about. But theatre means so much to so many people. People get so passionate about it. It is easy to forget that for many going to see a show is something special, a real treat, something glamorous and special that will stay in their memory for a long time. I am lucky enough to be a small cog in the machine that provides that.

And I AM lucky – thousands want to work in theatre and many do not get the opportunity as I witnessed this week. I arrived at the London Palladium on a (very) wet Monday morning to find an enormous queue for the open auditions for the upcoming production of A Chorus Line. This was, of course, very much life imitating art – the audition process being the subject of the show – but here, first hand was what it was all about. A dedication and a passion to perform that meant hundreds of people standing in the rain for hours, just for the opportunity to try and perform on the London stage.

In the dry of the stalls as I watched the first 50 nervous hopefuls take to the stage,the tension was palpable – without being too X Factor – this was their moment. It is a tough brutal business – step forward, say your name, perform two pirouettes. That was is it, the qualifying standards were high, fewer than 50% made it through to the next round. Thank you. Goodbye. Queuing since 5am, perform for 30 seconds and it is all over. But, it is their dream, their passion – it’s worth the wet, cold and boredom if you get through. My hat goes off to all those who gave it a go.

Then, last night, I was reminded why I love this business so much when I was lucky enough to attend the sensational National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night at the Cottesloe Theatre. As I said on Twitter afterwards – it was one of the theatrical highlights of my life.

Because of my job I see a lot of theatre, and often going to the theatre can feel like work. For that reason those that know me know that I am quite a tough judge of what I see on stage – it takes a lot to impress me these days. Last night I was more than impressed, I was blown away by an amazing piece of theatre.

My partner, Paul had been badgering to see it for someone time, he had not only loved the book but had recently worked with play’s leading actor Luke Treadaway (on a film called Wasteland – featuring at the London Film Festival, get your tickets), but it had sold out, so he was thrilled when I was able to get my hands on a precious pair of tickets. It did not disappoint. Those that have read the book (I haven’t ) will know the powerful story and unique style and will fear as to how it can translate to the stage. Don’t fear – it does. The theatricality is brilliant, often simple – but enormously effective. The cast are sensational, the staging imaginative, the multi media set and lighting help paint the pictures and the adaptation delivers. The result is a piece of theatre that will stay with me for some time, it made me laugh and turned me into a blubbering wreck. Some have said that it is a little too long, but for me I didn’t want it to end.

It also did one other thing – remind me why I work in theatre.