David Lister: Flatulence, snogging, hippo heads - the stage has some strange secrets

The week in arts

It was a delightful summer's evening at the equally delightful Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. But then things began going awry.

David Ward, the literary consultant at the Lake District venue, has compiled a booklet featuring stage managers' reports from last year's season. According to The Stage newspaper, the reports include incidents of snogging in the stalls, flatulence among actors, an actor being put "on the naughty step" (don't ask) and a hippo head in the audience.

One extract reads: "Mr Ingles was suffering from uncontrollable flatulence during Act One Scene 1, which was both audible enough to be heard in the wings and aromatic enough to be smelt by the front row of the audience." I particularly like the way that the stage managers' accounts cling to the theatrical tradition of giving the actor the dignity of the title "Mr", while in this case also ensuring that he will be known forever in the trade as the flatulent thespian.

And that's among the politer producers. The front stalls, usually among the priciest parts of the house, will be the cheap seats when Mr Ingles is performing. Let's hope he is never on stage when someone (who, knows, perhaps Mr Ingles himself) is speaking King Lear's words: "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!"

I'm also intrigued by the reports of snogging in the auditorium. I've always thought it one of the unexplored aspects of British culture that snogging is traditionally rife, almost de rigueur, in cinemas, but rare at the theatre, rarer still at opera and dance, and almost unheard of at an orchestral concert. The lights are dimmest in a cinema, perhaps, though they are pretty dim at the theatre. It must be respect for the so-called high arts that keeps snogging at bay in the playhouse. Perhaps it is the faintly erotic lapping of the lake's waters that gives rise to it in Keswick.

As for the "naughty step" and the hippo's head, I guess we will just have to wait for the book, and no doubt the ensuing sitcom, to unravel those theatrical mysteries.

All in all, the collected stage managers' reports at Keswick could be a treasure trove for cultural historians. Here will be a glimpse into the underside of British arts, the mistakes, the fraying tempers, the unmannerly audiences, the fluffed lines, weak bladders and uncontrollable stomachs.

But why stop at Keswick? There are bigger and better-known venues, from the National theatre downwards. And they feature bigger and better known stars than Mr Ingles, even if he has earned himself a footnote in theatre history. We are deluged with publicity from these venues, interviews with performers and critics'reviews. But I'm beginning to realise where we will learn the realities of life on stage and in the audience.

In those secret stage managers' reports across the country, there must be insights into some of the nation's biggest stars. I wonder if they are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

Cheap tickets good, booking fee bad

I was delighted to see that the phenomenally good director Michael Grandage, former head of the Donmar theatre, has announced the first West End season for his new company. It's a starry season all right, with Simon Russell-Beale, Judi Dench, Jude Law (right), Sheridan Smith, Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Whishaw and David Walliams taking part. The announcement made much of the fact that 100,000 seats over the season will be specially priced at £10. Sharing my delight was reader Marigold Atkey, who is also a supporter of my campaign against booking fees. She tells me that she booked several £10 tickets immediately, but was surprised to find there was a £2 booking fee on each. Two pounds doesn't sound a lot, but on a £10 ticket it is 20 per cent, which rather spoils the effect of deliberate (and much proclaimed) low pricing. What a pity the official announcement of the season and the cheap seats wasn't a little more transparent, admitting that each cheap ticket came with a not-so-cheap booking fee.

Armando has no need to defend his honour

There are many reasons to oppose the honours list, and to refuse an honour. But I find the hostility shown to The Thick of It writer Armando Iannucci for accepting an OBE a little curious. Former New Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell led the assault, claiming that Iannucci, as a satirist of the establishment, was showing hypocrisy in joining the establishment.

Well, first of all, it is probably the most common mistake in the arts to confuse the views of a writer (and often even an actor) with the characters in their shows. Secondly, it's surely the case that The Thick of It satirises spin, political paranoia and incompetent government. It's not an anti-establishment tract.

d.lister@independent.co.uk

Twitter.com/ davidlister1

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be Lonely Island's second Hollywood venture following their 2007 film Hot Rod
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Day-Lewis stars in the movie There Will Be Blood
music
Arts and Entertainment
Brush with greatness: the artist Norman Cornish in 1999
art
Life and Style
Stress less: relaxation techniques can help focus the mind and put problems in context
art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment