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Remembering the worst idea of all time: StageCon

StageCon
StageCon

StageCon

Make it through the first nine circles of hell and you’ll find a bunch of average theatre people, in Shoreditch Town Hall, over a weekend taking selfies with millenials – for £160.

An idea, surely, no one in their right mind would pass off as entertainment or fan engagement.

The inaugural and ironically, probably last ever ‘Theatre Convention’ was just stupid and criminally naive. Looking back now, it’s obvious that in 2018 the industry is caught in the strange no man’s land between commercialism and exploitation.

StageCon, announced in August, was due to take place in November 3 and 4 at Shoreditch Town Hall in London. Sharon D ClarkeCarrie Hope FletcherMichael Xavier and Christina Bennington were among the stars set to appear, but today after backlash the organisers said some of the contributors had to pull out due to offers of professional work.

Translation: they got a better offer too.

The whole thing was not good. In fact it was the opposite of good. It was very, very bad.

Shed no tears, though, for StageCon or the rats jumping ship. Spread out over a long weekend, the point of StageCon was completely lost on me, but our interest was meant to be held by an ‘exciting programme of events.’

Where are we now? Well, this week Michael Xavier pulled out, for starters, the event was pulled from Shoreditch Town Hall’s website and today was officially ‘postponed’ until 2019.

Woah there, folks. Back up the truck.

True to form, It fooled absolutely no one, of course, least of all me. Of all the irritations that came with StageCon over the summer, it was the cost, partnership with the WhatsOnStage and smugness that got me the most.

Additionally, now United Theatrical will now be the sole organiser of the event. All ticket holders have been contacted and offered a refund or the option to transfer their ticket to next year’s StageCon, apparently.

A spokesperson today said: ‘The organisers are also keen to engage with those who have previously shared their feedback, in order that the community has the chance to contribute to an event created for the community, and that it has every opportunity to become a regular and celebrated fixture on the UK’s theatre calendar.’

That’s why the organisers kept defending, deflecting and denying any incentive to cash in. They got dumb and greedy, and quickly discovered, as was inevitable, that supply had outstripped demand.

This is not just my opinion, obviously. Almost everyone who has looked at the nuts and bolts of StageCon have concluded it’s not good enough.

Anyway, StageCon will be postponed until next year after feedback from fans. Don’t, however, rule out the possibility of a last-minute redemption.

I’m not exactly holding my breath here, though.

We live in nutty times.

Stagecon Postponed Until 2019

StageCon

The organisers of StageCon, the UK’s first convention for theatre fans throughout the UK and Europe, have announced they are postponing the event until 2019, passing control to United Theatrical as Producer and General Manager.  StageCon was originally planned to run over the weekend of 3 & 4 November at Shoreditch Town Hall in London.

 When StageCon was announced in August, the organisers were overwhelmed by the responses they received.  It was clear this was an event that fans of theatre were excited about, but, at the same time, they have realised that the ticket pricing necessary to cover the costs of the event was too high for some, particularly younger members of the community.

 James Yeoburn, the UK General Manager for StageCon, said, “StageCon is an event that offers a great opportunity for fans from across the UK and the rest of Europe to come together in London to celebrate the magic of theatre.  All involved in the event continue to keep this community celebration at heart.  We have listened to the feedback received in the weeks since launching and recognise that ticket prices and lead time have prohibited many of the most loyal fans from being able to attend.  It is important that we acknowledge that feedback, and work with our industry partners to make the requisite changes to allow for greater accessibility.  We are sorry to not have the chance to share the exciting programme of events and performances developed for November, but look forward to presenting this with ample notice for next year.  United Theatrical are delighted to be leading the StageCon that everybody has waited for, including us!”

 The organisers are also keen to engage with those who have previously shared their feedback, in order that the community has the chance to contribute to an event created for the community, and that it has every opportunity to become a regular and celebrated fixture on the UK’s theatre calendar.

 In addition, some of the previously announced contributors are now unavailable 3 & 4 November due to their being offered professional work which has taken priority. The organisers have therefore decided to take more time to ensure that audiences benefit from a strong and varied programme of productions, actors, creatives and theatre makers who can participate in 2019.

 “It is imperative that StageCon reaches its full potential for the UK’s theatre community, and we must prioritise that over all else,” James added.

 All ticket holders have been contacted and offered a refund or the option to transfer their ticket to next year’s StageCon.

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StageCon. No. Just, no.

STAGE CON

I have been getting slowly obsessed with StageCon. Not because it’s any good – it is, of course, utterly dicey– but because of the shamelessness of it. Events featured will include live performances, sing-a-longs, discussions, cast reunions, panels, games, previews, workshops, meet and greets and showcases. 

As you may have noticed, StageCon was announced and Twitter lost its mind. I suppose an outrage is the new zeitgeist and can generally be more useful than total indifference, though the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the public.

You expect this reaction, obviously, during the summer: theatre’s silly season. 

A raft of musical theatre stars including Michael XavierLouise DearmanCameron Blakely and Stuart Matthew Price have been announced. So, you knew, long before you clicked to see who else will be in attendance that the elusive Carrie Hope Fletcher would be involved. 

I was surprised, though, to see Sharon D. Clarke in this questionable line-up; very obviously, the best theatre person not just from that selection. 

The really depressing thing is, though, that the ‘first ever UK theatre convention’ is presented in association with WhatsOnStage. Oh, and Day tickets for the event cost £85 and a Weekend ticket costs £160. In 2018 extra opportunities for theatre lovers to engage with their favourite musical star will continue to seduce theatre fans. 

STAGE CON

STAGE CON

Just how watered down is StageCon going to be? Well conceptually, even, StageCon is just a ripoff cousin of New York’s theatre convention: BroadwayCon

‘A portion of profits from StageCon will be donated to The Royal Theatrical Fund’. The organisers say: StageCon approached Royal Theatrical Fund as it is a charity that does a lot of great in supporting the Theatre community and so will support it with a portion of profits from ticket sales. This is an arrangement both parties are happy with.

That’s that then. 

It is a shame then that the pricing is as predictable as the sun rising in the morning. The ticket prices are not ideal, they are targeted for the privileged. The organisers have failed to realise there is only one simple rule to be observed when producing these kinds of events: Make it accessiblefools

Even if we ignore the fact that they have assumed that there are this many people who will part with this much cash, to attend a theatre convention in Shoreditch, something pretty staggering is going on here.

But it is important to remember that there’s room for everything, and such events are just moments of funWe are living in an age of boundaries being demolished: teenagers would rather have a selfie with a star than their autograph. It is no longer necessary to wait like a fruit-loop outside a stage door as Kelli O’Hara flees from another exit: you can book an appointment to meet her in the time it would take to arrange a visit to the dentist. It would quite possibly be the same price, and there’s every chance you would get a cupcake. 

More names and events will be announced in due course, incidentally, and there will be more Olivier-worthy action from StageCon and their forward-planning department next month, I’m sure. 

StageCon is at Shoreditch Town Hall in November