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I had a gluttony, a thirst for it, I wanted to understand this unwieldy beast. I remember watching show after show by the Young Company at Birmingham Rep where Iain Glen and Alex Kingston were busy cutting their teeth. Now, 25 years later, having worked in the industry for all that time, I also loathe the theatre – the entitlement and exclusivity of it.
The extortionate ticket prices that deny access to people like my teenage self. (Hurray for the Travelex season at the National Theatre.) I hate the plays that masquerade as revelations and the actors that take themselves too seriously.
I love the collective experience (as long as fellow audience members don't distract you with texting, talking or eating their chicken dinner throughout the play as happened one night downstairs at the Royal Court). He had an illustrious international career and when he died was given a state funeral in Poland, but since then his achievements and legacy have largely been forgotten. Affordable, diverse and inviting.) The Birmingham Youth Theatre was performing The Walking Class.
And at the end of the night, as I walk away from the theatre, I somehow understand my own limitations a little better. The difference was that in those days it was affordable. I remember thinking he was rather good and gave him a favourable review – thank goodness! Theatre studies trips to London where we watched two West End shows in a day. I remember being knocked for six by Antony Sher's Richard III at the RSC, (I stood at the back of the stalls for £3), Roger Rees as Hamlet and Berowne.
I love the way I can travel and live through the problems, dilemmas and cultures of people I will never meet. It was a social event attended by all levels of society. I didn't know then that a 14-year- old Adrian Lester was among the cast.
I love clever, succinct language that makes me laugh or cry and says exactly what I would hope to say if I were caught in that same situation. In Aldridge's day, theatre was the most popular form of entertainment. It was a school trip and for my homework I had to write a review.
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The hyperbole of the theatre makes me want to hide in shame.
I hate the impenetrability of it and the pressure of feeling ignorant if you don't agree with those that "know".
I cringe at the politically correct speeches from certain quarters about "diversity and inclusion", made to attract funding but based on half-truths where no real action lies. It's not accessible like film, which is affordable, has a huge range of choice and is full of diverse voices telling diverse stories.
Aldridge was a 19th-century, black American actor who played Othello at Covent Garden's Theatre Royal in 1833.
I remember seeing Sir John Mills and Connie Booth in The Magistrate – amazing. I remember discovering theatre in my teens and devouring it like a Roman feast.
Most people can name their favourite film star immediately but they could not name the great theatre actors of today as they could in Ira Aldridge's time.