Tonight at Leighton House, James and I will be subjected to a gentle grilling by around 100 of our patrons. It is an annual event but this year we have spruced it up by taking it to this beautiful house and by adding a singer or two. Actually, I say 'grilling' but it is never quite as bad as that. What is fascinating are the varied views of patrons who seem to want so many different things from the OHP experience. In the parlance of democracy, the OHP customer base is a broad church. I think there is probably a bit of High Church in there too, some no church probably as well. But it is fun and often extremely informative when it comes to designing the seasons ahead and the services we provide. You can never really talk to your audience too much although quite honestly, through any season, James and I will be stopped and lectured to by hundreds of people...our patrons and Friends have never been afraid to voice their opinions.
I can recall many evenings when we stand by the stage at curtain call, audience cheers and applause ringing in our ears, when a patron will rush past and say 'wonderful production, well done!', only to be immediately followed by a glum and ferocious looking patron saying 'awful, worst thing you have ever done'. T'was ever thus I suppose.
Anyway, I am very much looking forward to tonight. If you are going to be there, be gentle with me. With James you can do what you want.