Ms Margot Woodward
Glen Street Theatre
P O Box 9
Dear Ms Woodward,
A Mostly Pleasant Evening at Glen Street
Congratulations on your appointment to a job of challenge and opportunity: a job which on the one hand hopefully will bring much joy, but on the other means receiving the occasional communication, like this one, from grumpy old subscribers.
Consider the following scenario. A couple of subscribers, with guest in tow, decide to dine at Sorlies, and then enjoy the first night of Halpern and Johnson, presented by two of Australia’s finest male actors. Suburban normality. Tickets $154.00 .
It is generally considered desirable, in the modern hospitality industry, to present a vegetarian option on menus. Sorlies obliged. Tick. Food was good, and service amiable. Exit to the auditorium, $134.00 added to the evening’s tab.
Pity about the house. Many an empty seat, and this an opening night with, presumably, a bit of “paper” about. (All those tired pollies from Warringah Council perhaps?) The play was great, well acted as was to be expected, and well produced, broken by a short interval. A drink was not taken. It is best to be circumspect these days and the Random Breath Test bus was on Forestway Sunday last. The second half fulfilled the promise of the first. Thank goodness the audience was appreciative. It can’t be good when you’re at the top of your game to play to smaller houses.
And then, the “Exclusive After Party”. A chance to meet the actors. First nighters pay an extra seven or eight dollars for the privilege. A few nibbles and a drink (and of course the same boring comments from one of those pollies each and every opening). Ah well, it’s worth it for the social interaction. Except this time there were two rather surprising changes. I was third in line for an orange juice. Wondered at the first patron being charged. Perhaps she asked for a shot of vodka. Then, the second. Non drinkers. Long time subscribers to opening nights. Immediately it was clear. I was being asked for my $3.50! Why? The bar staff dissembled. Here I am at the advertised afterparty where OJ has been free for years, and now I must pay. But not for wine. No prior advice. No sign expressing regret on the bar. Just a policy change, which seemed to be expressed as “if we have no sponsor for it, it is not available free at the afterparty.”
OK. We understand times are tough. But it did seem strange to see a half empty orange juice container in the refrigerator, red ‘Home Brand’ clear for all to see. (Yes, yes, I know – I think – the OJ for which I paid came from the gun, not the fridge.)
Garry McDonald was seen with a beer in his hand. Hope he didn’t have to pay for that himself. Perhaps a grateful subscriber bought it for him.
So here we are, now nearly $300 down on the evening, reduced to saying “at least the nibbles are good tonight”. Then the Mayor ends his speech with a throw away line: “the drinks are on us”. Well, we expect pollies to only tell us half the truth, don’t we?
In an intriguing touch of irony, the RBT bus was on Forestway again. The polite policeman enquired about our evening at the theatre. It gave one pause. It is generally considered desirable, in the modern hospitality industry, to offer a non-alcoholic alternative. Cross. How, I wonder, does it fit with the Responsible Service of Alcohol training of your staff? Sorry, there’s a charge for OJ. But have a wine instead, and good luck with the RBT.
The second surprising change? A Director missing in action. Rob has gone. Margot is now in charge. But who is Margot? Does she have a vision for Glen Street? Beyond orange juice? Directors of performance spaces need to communicate with their audience, their subscribers, their constituencies. In person. So please, next opening, let us see who you are.