I never wrote an open letter and I know this might not be the best idea, but when I tried what I thought was the official way to make you understand what happened, I've been banished from All My Sons.
I would choose a different approach expressing my thoughts if I would have any other way.
I have no idea how to write this letter, but I feel that I have to write it to try to clear up the situation you might not even fully aware of, but which got out of hand so much that I am suffering from it very much.
It is long because the situation is complicated and I need to explain a few things for you to be able to understand it,
It is prepared for both of our benefits, as you seemed uncomfortable every time you've seen me away from the theatre and obviously for me too, as the last three weeks were a nightmare for me and I would like to solve the situation or since probably it is not possible, at least explain it.
This whole story is about what happened from the beginning to the middle of May.
I am a proud supporter of All My Sons since the middle of March, but I was banished from this play less than two months later as I've been told that as a "goodwill" gesture Old Vic will return my donation to me. But I will talk about this later, as it is a complicated situation.
I wasn't going to the theatre or to the streets to disturb you, yet I am treated like I did something wrong, like I am not welcomed to the theatre, like my pure existence is causing upset and unease to you whenever you see me on the tube or the streets of the neighbourhood we apparently share.
I am upset that my presence is so unwanted and you are judging me without knowing me or my reasons to be at the places I am.
I have a huge amount of passion and usually, people misinterpret that.
Whatever I do, I am participating in all activities with my whole heart, passion, and energy as long as I can, which is usually extremely long.
Perhaps it is weird and unusual for many others, but it is normal for me to be this energetic.
People mocked and bullied me many times because of it (they accused me that I am on drugs, they told me not to work that hard as it makes them look bad...).
That left me with little self-confidence, and very cautious, and shy to be able to express myself and my passion.
I thought that being around other passionate people like those in the theatre world would make me allow to finally belong somewhere.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that I will have similar problems here by a professional, passionate actor when here everyone has a passion for the theatre and for the show.
I thought I would be understood, this can be a place to belong. It makes me so sad to realise how wrong I was.
When the unique opportunity did arise to support All My Sons and have backstage access and be able to learn the process as a whole, from the initial rehearsals up to the performance I happily donated for it, I felt it would be special and was excited to support it, and in doing so I would be able to have access to some of the great behind the scenes moments, and to learn how to make an amazing theatre production.
I discovered the theatre last year. I was fascinated with it. I felt at home, felt that people who are working in the theatre business are so passionate and they are working together and doing their best to achieve great productions and that's where I wanted to be. I felt I might finally belong somewhere.
I jumped into this new adventure with my whole heart, energy, and passion. For over a year I visited so many great shows and the idea to learn more about how to make a theatre production got very strong in me. I visited a focus group at Old Vic at the end of last year and I learned that they have no government help so I started to think about how to assist them.
In February I decided to give my support of their upcoming production, All My Sons. It was a lot of money to pay, I even had to take up a loan, but I thought it was a one time opportunity because I would have access to many amazing things like the rehearsal, technical rehearsal, understudy play and be able to see what is going on backstage.
I was so excited to support this production and I shared my enthusiasm and passion with OV staff explaining how blessed I felt to be able to do this.
I let my passion for the theatre overtake me and started to attend many shows so I could learn more.
Most of the tickets ended up in the front row as they were available as day tickets. It was a joy to watch this play and see how it developed, to discover more and more little details and to see how day by day the performances changed but still stayed the same.
Being seated in the front row gave the unique view only those who are sitting close could experience.
Every time I was sitting in the front, I felt that I was pulled into the story, I can't describe it, but it gave me the best theatre experience I ever had so far.
However, I had noticed that, as the weeks went on, some of the cast had noticed my presence in the front row and had taken to avoid making any eye contact, as if my presence made them uncomfortable.
In contrast, Sule Rimi looked at me after the curtain call one day when the cast started to exit the stage and he smiled, nodded and said ‘thank you’ to me. It didn’t cost him anything to be kind and acknowledge my support and it was a very nice gesture, not that I was expecting that.
I always thought that the actors don't take notice of the audience during the show, I never thought anyone would recognise me being there with my unremarkable features.
But in light of that, I cannot help but wonder how many more of the cast and/or the other creatives looked at me in a similar fashion and the thought made me feel uncomfortable to be anywhere near the production staff or even the theatre itself.
One of the main reasons I felt I have to contact you because we are crossing ways away from the theatre sometimes and I wanted to make sure that you know that those occasions are accidental.
I lived in the area since 2009, which appears to be close to the area where you reside.
I assumed at the time that this would not present a problem, but it is clear now that this is not the case. Between my many visits to the front row for the play and perhaps also be seen in the area of your neighbourhood, it seems obvious that I have been deemed to be unsafe by you.
I want to make sure that it is clear that I am not there to go after you, although that is the impression you might have, I am just trying to live my life. But since a meeting at the tube (I will talk about that later) every time I happen to walk past you I feel the wariness, unease radiating from you, and you always have some unwanted response to my presence.
Believe me, it hurts me and makes me feel very self-conscious when another person feels that way when I am around.
I understand that you might have bad encounters with your fans, it still doesn't make your treatment towards me fair.
I even try to avoid the neighborhood as much as I can these last two weeks or at least trying to go there when I am sure you are at the theatre, but I have every right to walk on those streets, visit my GP, the market....like I did in the last 10 years.
And the other reason I had to write this letter is because of your reaction after the play one day at the beginning of May at the tube station. This was your very first bad reaction, as before this time my presence on the streets were mostly unnoticed or at least ignored by you and that is how I always preferred it.
I have to talk about this as it was the main reason that made me think about not going to the theatre perhaps ever again, in fact, I only been to the Old Vic once since it happened and it is unlikely that I will ever go there again.
Probably you don't remember this, but that makes this whole experience even worse, however, I think you remember, as you were still at unease when I was around on the streets over a week later.
I was at the tube station after the performance (4th May), leaning against the wall, waiting for the tube that I use from Old Vic, and I have a certain spot I always use as it is the best place to change for another line that I need, when you arrived on the platform.
Even though I was typing into my phone at the time, I caught a very obvious almost dead-stop motion from the corner of my eye and looked up and saw that you were watching me (or rather my response) as you cautiously approached, apparently planning to use the same spot to get on the tube as obviously, we both were going towards the same area.
I looked back down on my phone, just to make sure you knew that I didn’t want to bother you and I am sure you realised that as you stopped awkwardly right in front of me at the same spot, while you were waiting for the tube too, but it was quite obvious from the way you behaved that you recognised me from the theatre...and that my presence there on the mostly empty platform disturbed you.
I did not acknowledge you, and had no intention of doing so, yet your body language clearly telegraphed that you were uncomfortable with my being there, despite it being a public place and I had just as much right to be there as you did.
And then, when the tube arrived, you detoured to another door or carriage at the very last moment, as if to avoid any possible further contact with me, like I have some kind of a disease, like I am someone who has to be avoided at all cost.
I was so mortified, offended, and insulted by this that I didn’t even get on the tube, opting instead to catch the next one.
But even before your reaction, I knew I will not go with that tube, as I didn't want you to feel wary of me even more or trapped so I didn't even make a move to get on.
I had many bad social experiences before but I never in my life been made to feel as awful and small as I did that night by you without any good reason.
What a completely different reaction was this compared to Sule Rimi's acknowledgment (that I mentioned above).
I think my passion and my commitment should be appreciated or at least ignored, not getting frowned upon and getting singled out by professionals who are also passionate about the theatre.
I no longer felt comfortable expressing my joy for the theatre because of being judged due to where I’ve been seated or how often I attend or even where I live and how I travel.
I have every right for all of these. No one should judge me without knowing the facts.
I am a donor, yet I feel like I am on the most hated list just because it’s unusual that someone sees the performance so many times. It is not forbidden, I didn’t do anything wrong I just wanted to fulfill my passion.
I know that many fans saw and will see the show many times because of you and they will not be judged by being there more times than I did and they are going to go to the stage door and planning to (and did already) meet the cast.
I would never do that.
I saw another lady sitting in the front row many times already and she never was singled out and apparently, she even went to the stage door a few times and had a chance to meet the cast without being judged.
So why am I being singled out?
I didn't even want to meet the cast, I was interested to meet the understudy people and the backstage people and the theatre staff is well aware of that.
At this point, I feel bitter and offended and even lost as I really want to continue to see this production and other events but I don't think that I ever will. And not by choice.
Now I even lost more of my self-confidence as I don’t dare to go to the theatre as I feel that I am not welcomed there anymore, which is really unfair as I think I haven’t done anything wrong.
I should be allowed to attend as many shows as I wish and sit in the front row if that's my desire without being judged, just because it is unusual.
And although I had great tickets each day for the week after this happened, and it gave me so much joy to watch the production and wanted to see it as many times as I could, I felt that I shouldn’t be there anymore, so with a heavy heart, I returned all the tickets for that week and I am going to return all of my tickets for the run as sadly I don’t feel comfortable going there when I am clearly not wanted.
It is not what I wish to do but I don’t see any other way and I don’t want to upset the cast with my pure existence. Also, I am not going to go to a place where I am obviously not welcome anymore. And I didn't even get to the banishment part yet.
All those returned tickets were in the front row and were arranged by the Old Vic and I cannot stress enough that I never asked for front row tickets, all I said that I don't want to sit in the back and I don't mind front row, so they tried to be kind, told me not to queue up every morning for the day tickets (even when I told them that I don't mind doing that) and arranged the front row seats for me.
I even sat in Row U before, offering my front row seat for other guests as they never saw the show before.
I explained the Old Vic staff that I feel unwelcome, unwanted and I don't want anyone to feel unease by my presence and this was the reason I was returning my tickets. We agreed that I will think about what to do with the rest of my tickets and about the situation.
Now Old Vic while fully aware of how much pain it caused me, does the same thing, they don't want me near.
The theatre stated that since I am so unhappy that they didn't deliver some things they promised in the perks, as a “goodwill” gesture they will return my donation, they are hoping to see me in other productions (but not this one), they thanked my support and they ceased all connections with me. In other words, they do not want me there anymore. They never gave me a choice if I want to stay a donor, they decided that I shouldn't be one anymore and I had no say in that.
Shame, as I told them in email and a meeting that my main concern was not what they didn't deliver, but it seems they don't want to listen. Even though we agreed in the meeting that I need some time to think about what to do with the tickets, they decided to let me go without giving me any choice.
It happened eleven days ago and they still didn't return my donation.
It means that I am still a donor for this production and yet I am not allowed near the show or at least not wanted. They never corrected or denied my assumption that I am unwanted, that I am banished. They only say how sorry they are because I am unhappy with what they provided. They don't listen to me, if they would they would know that it was never my real problem. But it doesn't matter what I say, they decided my faith.
I feel like I am on the theatre's blacklist as well as yours.
But I am sure that the main reason for my banishment was that I asked the theatre staff whom I was in contact with if they would be willing to deliver this letter to you (even though it was just a scratch at that time) as they didn't offer any useful help to solve the situation apart from having me seated somewhere else. I tried that on my very last visit, but it doesn't matter where I am seated if I am not wanted there.
I explained that all I wanted to clear up the situation as I wanted to see the show more and also I wanted both of us to feel at ease on the tube and in the streets when we accidentally bump into each other.
I never asked direct access to you, not even when it was offered (and never delivered) in the perks.
And since unique access to the cast was offered, I thought it is not a weird request to try to clear up all by that way. I thought that was the most official way, asking the theatre's help, but Old Vic didn't think the same way.
Even that would have been enough if they would have made you aware that I am just a donor who is living close to you. That should have solved the whole problem.
But Old Vic decided that banishing their donor is the best way to handle the situation.
I never wanted to use my supporter status to have access to you, I could have gone to the stage door if I would want to meet you and I never did that. Quite honestly I had more than enough access on the streets, where you (even after a week of my last theatre visit) reacted badly to my presence.
But of course, the theatre chose not to understand this and the lack of support is very upsetting.
Even in that letter, I wrote I don't want to have any contact with you and asked you to talk to the lady from Old Vic who delivers the letter if you have something to say.
All I ever wanted to be ignored or rather have no reaction at all, so I could use the tube, walk on the streets and enjoy and learn a lot from the show. But it is denied from me by your reactions and by the theatre I support.
I thought it would be good for the both of us to clear these issues as I've seen how uncomfortable I seem to make you feel every time you see me either at the tube station, the streets or perhaps even at the theatre.
I hope telling these would make you realise that I am not someone to be afraid of, to be cautious or upset about.
Just to make you feel less wary, I started to go less to the common streets and I will try to cross the road when I see you approaching, not that I should do that, but because I don't want to cause any distress with my presence, which is quite honestly offensive and because I don't want to experience your unfair reaction to me being there.
At least you can feel at ease at the theatre as I will never go there again, I am very upset about this as I am missing out on this brilliant play when I can be there every night if it would be up to me.
I am not a treat, I just try to live my life using the streets of my neighboorhood, using public transport to get home and trying to fulfill my passion by enjoying the best show of the year, but apparently, I can’t do that without causing unease.
As I explained this to the theatre when I gave my support, theatre is my joy and I was very keen to belong somewhere finally, where my passion would be accepted.
I am missing out the best production of the year day by day when I could and should be there, not to mention missing out the understudy play and discovering what is going on backstage during a performance.
It was all taken away from me, and it is a lot to take away from someone who has nothing left to be passionate about.
Both you and the theatre made me feel like I am the last person on Earth who matters.
All I wanted to follow my dreams and passion, assuming the theatre is for everyone. Apparently, it is for everyone else but for me.
I will never follow my dreams again I don't think I will ever going to watch another theatre production.
The whole unfairness of this situation makes me feel extremly sad. Every day became a struggle as I am unfairly punished.
After 10 days my previous contact at the theatre sent me an email to tell me that I should decide what to do with the remaining tickets as I didn't attend at the NT Live.
Obviously, I did not go there just after the OV told me that they don't want my donation.
It was clear to me they don't want me there. They never said it, but it was the clear indication and like I mentioned before they never corrected me when I mentioned I felt I was banished, dismissed.
They never mentioned anything of this unfortunate situation or my donor status, only their focus was on the tickets.
Also I told them specifically that I would want to be at the understudy play and to the backstage opportunity and as I am still a donor on the 23rd May, I should have been allowed there.
I am very disappointed with Old Vic, not that anyone would care.
I don’t expect a reply, I’m not even sure that you will ever see this letter, I will see by your reaction next time I come across you if you read it or not, but if you do read it, my only wish that you wouldn't judge people this harsh in the future, perhaps try to understand the situation from their point of view.
You never know what you might take away from them by reacting badly.
So those who read this letter and want to criticise me, please don’t forget that I didn’t write this out of hatred but I only wanted to fix a complex and unfair situation by using the only way that left available for me. Also please do not criticise my grammar and use of words as my native language is not English.
I don't expect sympathy from anyone, I have no false hope, compassion and kindness appear to be out of fashion these days.
This letter won't change the fact that I will never be able to go back to Old Vic and perhaps not even any other theatre productions unless this situation is resolved.
Hopefully, this letter clears everything and my presence will not cause so much distress for you anymore.
Thank you if you are taking the time to read it.
Your (previously) theatre loving neighbour