Thanks a bunch: Actors are forgoing the usual first-night bouquets - and donating the money to charity instead


Theatreland lore dictates that flowers should only be given to actors celebrating their opening nights after the curtain has fallen. Many still believe superstitiously that delivering a bunch of blooms prior to the first act invites a disastrous run for the play.

But tomorrow night, after the opening of the new Sam Shepard play, A Particle of Dread, the dressing rooms of the Playhouse Theatre in Derry/Londonderry are likely to be much less colourful than they normally would be on such an occasion.

A number of cast members have asked their agents to take the money that they would usually spend on sending flowers and instead donate it to Kids Company, the charity for disadvantaged inner-city children.

The scheme, provisionally entitled "No More Flowers", was thought up by the actor Eugene O'Hare. Living in Tower Hamlets, one of London's poorest areas, he regularly witnessed the despair of some of the capital's young people.

"I try and give what I can to Kids Company because I think it's a real inspiration," says O'Hare. "But actors' incomes can be very irregular and I wondered how other actors donated to charity. Then it occurred to me that it could be a two-way relationship between them and their agents."

O'Hare worked out that between last month and next spring he would have three different opening nights. "Flowers can be 40 to 50 quid including the delivery. So that's about £150. And I have two agents. I thought if I could get other actors to join me then there could be a real cumulative effect."

Flowers might have traditionally been given to actors since the Middle Ages, but O'Hare found that actor friends were more than happy to forgo their bouquets for a good cause. "As a group, we're fairly socially and politically conscious. Even if we might get a bad name for it sometimes," he says with a laugh. On hearing of the initiative, Caolan Byrne, one of the cast members of A Particle of Dread, immediately lent his support.

"I was speaking with a few other actors and they all agreed that the gifts we get on opening night are nonsense and don't serve any purpose," he says.

"You could give something to people who really need it. Flowers just sit in the dressing room dying. Then at the end of the run, you throw them away. It's depressing."

The founder of Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh, was delighted to hear about the scheme. But she was quick to point out that it's not just the actual money that will make a difference.

"With children who have been abused, their biggest problem is that they feel violated and that no one wants them around; they feel discarded often," says Batmanghelidjh.

"And to know that people at the centre of society, especially people who are admired in the arts, are doing something like this is so important, not only in terms of the donations, but also in terms of the compassion that is demonstrated to the kids.

"It tells them they matter," she adds. "It sort of helps to return some dignity to the children by having them embraced in this way. I think Eugene is amazing to have thought this up. The fact that actors are agreeing to do this really touches me."

The agents, too, have been quick to get on board. "My agency, Curtis Brown, thought it was a great idea and something that they'd love to do," says O'Hare.

"They wanted to celebrate my work in whatever way I wished. Also, it's easier to text a donation than to go about trying to arrange a flower delivery: everyone's a winner. I think the only enemy we're going to make out of this is a handful of florists."

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?