A couple of months ago I wrote a post here about entitlement and theatre, because sometimes when you see things that irritate you to completely new levels, you need to vent a bit. That post was concerning Funny Girl and Sheridan Smith, and understudies in general. In this one I want to chat about Carrie Hope Fletcher, and stage doors.
While Carrie was playing the role of Eponine in Les Miserables I was fortunate enough to see her in the show a few times, the first of which was with a friend in the summer and we thought afterwards we may as well pop round to the stage door afterwards and see if we could meet her. I’d been a fan of her for years before this having followed her YouTube channel, and no matter how many times you remind yourself that a person is just a person – the thought of meeting them is still exciting.
Despite it being in between shows on a Saturday in the school holidays, Carrie along with many other cast members still came out at stage door to say hello to fans, sign programmes and take photos. We even had a substantial chat with Carrie about the show, our love of Harry Potter (can’t remember how we got onto that but is it ever not relevant?) and how we’d seen our old school’s production of Les Miserables just the week before that. The whole time she listened to us, engaged in the conversation and genuinely cared and was excited about what we were talking about. Even after just performing a matinee of one long, gruelling, emotional show in ridiculous heat.
You couldn’t meet a nicer person.
We walked away from the Queen’s Theatre with only praise of how Carrie dealt with the crowd there – because believe me it wasn’t small, and how patient and genuine she was with every single person, it’s not an easy task.
Fast forward a few years and I feel like I’ve definitely matured as a theatre-goer, the more friends I’ve made in the theatre industry specifically those who are performers, has allowed me to see how things are on their side of it. To get an insight into what performers sometimes have to deal with at stage door, please go and watch Carrie’s video where she talks about some of the unpleasant experiences she’s had. It’s horrifying to hear, and she, or anyone for that matter, shouldn’t be treated in such a way.
I’ve seen the same treatment happening to other popular theatre performers I follow on social media, a certain incident that springs to mind is the way Cynthia Erivo was treated by a ‘fan’ recently on Instagram. After receiving an unsavoury comment on a photo posted she responded with grace and a calm tone, something I’m not sure I could do if I received a comment like this.
When I saw this comment I was horrified – in 2013 a beautiful little show called LIFT was playing at the Soho Theatre and I was so lucky to see it quite a few times. Cynthia was in the show and gave the most INCREDIBLE performance. It was the first time I’d seen her in a show and it’s safe to say I knew most of the world would know her name soon, and that’s been the case. On that tiny stage, in that tiny theatre, I along with most of the audience silently bawled after her rendition of “It’s Been a Year” and every time I saw that beautiful show the strength was so present, the emotions were legitimate, and the tears were 100% real. You could see the emotional exhaustion in her face every time.
I’ve not been lucky enough yet to see Cynthia’s performance in The Color Purple but from all accounts I know she’s putting that power into the show every time, 8 shows a week, without fail. To expect anything more from a performer but their total commitment to a show is ridiculous.
Let me make something clear.
When you buy a ticket to the theatre, that’s great. I’m thrilled for you, really, I hope you have a wonderful experience and enjoy the show; if you’ve never been to the theatre before I hope you fall in love with it like I did, that it’ll make you want to see more shows and have that experience again and again. Theatreland has incredible things to offer and you deserve to see it all.
When the curtain rises it’s a performers job to make you laugh, make you cry, make you see new worlds, make you feel differently, or maybe just to entertain you. Once that curtain hits the stage, their job is done, they owe you nothing.
Your ticket is a form of admission to the theatre, it does not include a meet and greet.
I understand the feeling of waiting at a stage door after a show in anticipation of potentially meeting a performer.
I understand how disappointing it can feel when you don’t get to meet them.
I understand that performers are human beings and not machines. They need rest: vocally, physically and mentally. If you disagree and are still harping on about your lack of an autograph or a photo, I’m sorry but you don’t sound like much of a fan.