Letter: Real theatre

Sir: The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, Surrey (neither in central London nor in the regions, alas, so do we count?), has a permanent company of actors, performing plays in repertoire for comparatively short runs. Actors have been put under contract for a year (I hope some may stay longer), and over that time will perform in at least six of the nine plays that go to make up the year's work.

It is not more expensive to do this than to cast on a play-by-play basis. If theatres do not operate in this way it is because they choose not to, preferring rather to keep their options open to cast some "name", perhaps, from television or films. A permanent company puts the actors at the centre of the theatre, which is where they belong, and allows them to become fully involved with the theatre for which they are working, rather than passing through from one job to the next. A theatre without a permanent company is not a real theatre at all; it is merely a building that puts on plays.

I am delighted that Sir Ian McKellen is working in Leeds, but we do have real people where we live too. But I am more worried that Tom Sutcliffe (letter, 25 September) thinks we are dead.



Orange Tree Theatre