With over fifty successful contracts in theatre consultancy since 1996, The Laughing Audience has considerable experience in showbusiness strategy, artistic policy, audience development planning, teaching and other aspects of theatrical management.
Inverclyde Council and Greenock Arts Guild Limited: review of plan for new waterfront theatre.
Uplace Machelen: preliminary planning and brief for new music hall and dinner theatre near Brussels.
Sell a Door Theatre Company Limited, Stirling: mentor for new touring company.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre: programme editorial, She Stoops to Conquer.
South Ayrshire Council: tender documents for leasing the Gaiety Theatre to a new operator
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool: public lecture Interpreting William Hogarth's painting of David Garrick as Richard III.
The Les Dawson Statue Appeal: editorial.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre: programme editorial, The Magistrate.
SB Management, Edinburgh: technical assistance for music and comedy.
Northern Broadsides Theatre Company, Halifax: policy assistance.
National Theatre of Variety at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool: manager & chief executive.
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond: associate director.
Contracts for services and circulated research 2004
Designing Dynamic Environments for the Performing Arts, Universities of Cambridge and Salford departments of architecture - research project into briefing processes for theatre design and construction: member of sounding panel.
Northern Broadsides Theatre Company, Halifax: development plan.
Kingston upon Hull City Council: a review of Hull New Theatre and City Hall.
Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne: a business case for refurbishments.
Middlesbrough Council: a feasibility study for the Empire Theatre and Middlesbrough Concert Hall (with Theatre Projects Consultants).
His Majesty’s Theatre and The Music Hall, Aberdeen: retained consultant.
Fife Council: contributions to a review of the Rothes Halls, Glenrothes (with RGA Consulting, Edinburgh).
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford upon Avon: contributions to heritage access plan for archives, iconography and interpretation (with RGA Consulting, Edinburgh).
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond: associate director.
Contracts for services and circulated research 2003
Theatr Brycheiniog and Brecon International Festival of Jazz: partnership plan.
His Majesty’s Theatre and The Music Hall, Aberdeen: retained consultant.
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond: retained consultant, interim management and authoring new business plan for reopening after refurbishments.
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation: evaluation of ‘Regional Theatre Initiative’ for associate directors in six repertory theatres in England (with Steven Gale).
Stoke on Trent City Council: business planning for Cultural Quarter Company (with RGA Consulting, Edinburgh).
King’s Theatre, Glasgow: historical narratives for education programme.
Eastgate Theatre & Arts Centre, Peebles: assisting in the recruitment of a theatre director.
North Lanarkshire Council: review of staffing at Motherwell Theatre.
Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop: review of governance options.
South Ayrshire Council: a capital and management review of the Gaiety Theatre, Ayr.
Lecture for Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland: The Alchemy of Architect and Manager: Frank Matcham, Howard & Wyndham and The King’s Theatre, Glasgow.
Sample contracts for services 2002
Stoke on Trent City Council: a review of Ambassador Theatre Group management of the Victoria Hall and Regent Theatre, Hanley (with RGA Consulting, Edinburgh).
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: retained consultant.
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond: retained consultant.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre: a review of artistic policy for Scottish Arts Council ‘advancement’ programme.
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness: personnel frameworks.
The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh: locum management assistance.
South Ayrshire Council: assisting in the recruitment of a manager at the Gaiety Theatre, Ayr.
Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne: business plan.
Feature: ‘Theatre syndicates’, Prompt, Theatrical Management Association, London.
Sample contracts for services 2001
Aberdeen City Council: plan for transition of theatres to a non-profit trust (with Positive Solutions).
The Grand Theatre, Blackpool: assisting in recruiting a general manager.
Sample contracts for services 2000
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen: retained programming consultant.
Eastgate Theatre & Arts Centre, Peebles: business planning.
Sample contracts for services 1999
Aberdeen City Council: a review of His Majesty’s Theatre and The Music Hall (with Positive Solutions). John Cavanagh, theatre bibliographer and research fellow, Leicester University: business plan for his collection of theatre and opera monographs.
Birmingham Hippodrome: editorial assistance for centenary book.
King’s Theatre, Glasgow: building interpretation and history materials for education project.
Northern Arts, Newcastle upon Tyne: Conference Address, The Two Vocabularies of Theatre Management, for the start of a Drama Review.
King’s Theatre Trust, Dundee: adviser to campaign for rehabilitating touring house.
Aberdeen City Council: a review of His Majesty’s Theatre and The Music Hall (with Positive Solutions).
John Cavanagh, theatre bibliographer and research fellow, Leicester University: business plan for his collection of theatre and opera monographs.
Wakefield Theatre Royal & Opera House and ten other theatres: evaluation of a producing consortium.
Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne: mentor, review and development plan.
Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne: retained programming consultant.
Burnley Borough Council: feasibility study for restoring the Empire Theatre (with Theatresearch Limited).
Halifax Thespians: business plan for refurbishment of The Playhouse, Halifax (with Theatresearch Limited).
‘Theatre Management and Economics’ and bibliography in Judith Strong, Encore: Strategies for Theatre Renewal, The Theatres Trust, London.
Paper: Festivals Management, British Council International Seminar, Edinburgh.
Sample contracts for services 1997
Buxton Opera House: a review and business plan (with Positive Solutions).
Richmond Theatre, Surrey: business plan.
Criterion Theatre, London: business plan.
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds: lead consultant for Arts Council of England pilot ‘stabilisation’ programme.
Ian Darby Architectural Partnerships, Newcastle upon Tyne: design team member for Dilston College arts centre.
Theatre Royal, Dumfries and Thurso Arts Centre: Lottery evaluations for Scottish Arts Council.
Theatre de Complicité, London: business analysis.
Donmar Warehouse, London: member of Arts Council of England peer review.
Associate Director: Scottish Centre for Cultural Management and Policy, at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh: training courses and summer schools for arts managers, establishing MA in Festivals Management and Producing, lecturer in drama.
Contract for services 1993
Salford City Council: co-author of feasibility study for The Lowry Centre (with Theatre Projects Consultants).
Edinburgh Festival Theatre Trust: manager.
The Grand Theatre, Blackpool: manager.
South Australian Government, Department for the Arts: a review of the Stage Company Inc, Adelaide.
Australia Council: contributions to review of national performing arts touring.
MANAGER. The theatre sounds terribly risky.
ARTIST. It is; terribly risky – for you. That is my point; that is the artist’s everlasting point. He thinks; you risk. If you begin thinking everything is lost. Leave that to your stage-manager – to me. You shall have no other risk but me. Risk me, and you stand the chance of gaining all.
MANAGER. You terrify me. I think you must be mad…
ARTIST. Whatever you do gamble like a gentleman; risk enormously; do not incessantly change your mind – and don’t apologise for your method of play!
MANAGER. Upon my word, you are an original being!
ARTIST. I am. I thought that was why you came to me. All artists are ‘original’ to business men and all business men are ‘original’ to artists: both can truthfully be called eccentrics. That is as it should be, the securest foundation for a successful union. The mistake is to try and understand how the other works. Each should remain ignorant of the others methods…
MANAGER. Yes – but to return to practical matters—
ARTIST. I had never departed from them.
Edward Gordon Craig, ‘A Dialogue Between a Theatrical Manager and an Artist of the Theatre’, The Theatre Advancing, London, Constable, 1921, pp.94-95.
STRINDBERG ON THE THEATRE CRISIS, 1907
People blame the theatre crisis on the poor economic conditions nowadays, but they have always been bad as far back as I can remember.... People seek amusement when they are either bored or have difficulties, for people can always raise money for entertainment. Attending the theatre is not classified as an actual form of entertainment but has been considered as part of the intellectual diet in life. As a youngster, I thought of a theatrical performance as an experience which I made my own and collected along with the other essentials in life. Briefly: there is something special about the theatre. If one merely talks about it, others are interested, and, if one writes about it, one is read as never before. The theatre is the chronicle of the contemporary world in living images, charades in action, silhouettes of living people, sometimes portraits, echoes of significant events, even the questions of the time. When the theatre was still considered an educational, cultural institution, the state came to its aid and supported it as a commendable undertaking.
- August Strindberg, trans. Walter Johnson, 'About the Theatre Crisis and the Theatre Muddle', in Letters to the Intimate Theatre, London, Peter Owen, 1967, p.144.
The Laughing Audience is a member of:
Society for Theatre Research
SIBMAS- the International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts
The Frank Matcham Society
The Irving Society
Association of British Theatre Technicians
Theatrical Management Association
This website is catalogued at INTUTE. Search or browse the database of Theatre and Drama resources which have been selected, evaluated and described by subject specialists. Their target audience is lecturers, researchers and students in higher and further education.
The campaign for the recognition of the English theatre:
Playhouses are more necessary in a well governed commonwealth than schools; for men are better taught by example than precept.
TATE WILKINSON’S THEATRE MANAGEMENT AT THE THEATRE ROYAL, SHAKESPEARE SQUARE, EDINBURGH, 1781
My own eagerness for variety, and high opinion of the proprietor’s judgement, experience and veracity, made me anxious to manage the Theatre without recourse to the condition of the theatre, or the wardrobe, scenery, &c. I agreed with him at four hundred pounds rent for the year, and entered pell-mell to raise a regiment of comedians for Edinburgh, exclusive of my company at York. This northern expedition was undertaken at a time when sterling coin was truly scarce; and wit without money will never ensure success, either for the Church, the State or the humble Stage!
The wish for superior sway is inherent, more or less, in the human breast, than is fairly acknowledged in every class. The player wishes to be the manager (who is a despot); the manager is not contented but prays devoutly for something more permanent, superior, and more lastingly secure: And with such visionary objects we beguile our imaginations. Edinburgh holds out great temptation, and I might have had it two years after, in preference to Mr. Jackson, a manager who became an implacable and dangerous enemy.
A fatality has attended Edinburgh by its seldom having persons of probity as the managers to ensure its credit; though on successful seasons the treasury receives astonishing sums. Yet when the day of retribution arrives, it plainly appears in theatrical receipts. All is not golden that dazzles. Bad houses made the campaign very disagreeable, hazardous and fatiguing. The rent pushed me as hard as any blast of that severe weather in the north.
- Tate Wilkinson, The Wandering Patentee, published for the author, York, 1795: Vol.II., pp.81-84.
A theatre manager must be a bold and rusé person. He may enjoy the pleasure of selecting players, with forecasts of their future attraction not then discernable to other eyes. Courage, venture and prudence united will make the manager successful. On the other hand, the temptation of art is irresistible…. In no walk of life is ignorance or lack of true instinct so certain and so speedily to bring about destruction. It is knowledge, not capital that does it.
- Percy FitzGerald, The Theatre Managers, 1887.