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Neil Lennon: Burning Down The House.

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Imagine you hear that one of your favourite books has been optioned as a stage-play and it was going to be produced and directed by a local hero, a guy you greatly admire, and that it will involve some of your favourite actors.

Imagine they slapped a whopping great £500 price tag on the tickets.

If plays were your thing and if the book was special to you – something that genuinely touched your heart – you might well lay your money down.

You would spend weeks, maybe months, in anticipation of the opening night. You would buy yourself some tidy new threads. You would plan, perhaps, to make a night of it with dinner and drinks and you’d get very excited as the day of the curtain raiser arrived.

And then you get there and you find that the script veers radically from the book you love.

The acting is lifeless, the delivery of the lines wooden.

The stage and the hall are an unkempt mess. The fabric on the is frayed and even ripping.

The concierges are a nightmare.

The whole is ruinous to your memory of the book.

The whole show is dreadful.

So you boo along with the rest, and you leave angry and bewildered.

You retire to the nearest pub, filled with grumbling patrons, annoyed at the utter waste, shocked at the poor quality of all involved.

Suddenly, the big screen TV gets switched on; the guy responsible for all this is doing an opening night interview in the foyer of the hall next door. Everyone falls silent to hear the apology.

But you don’t get an apology.

Instead you get a gush of self-pitying garbage.

You listen, disbelieving, as you are told you were all a poor audience who don’t recognise art.

That the book in question was over-rated dreck and you shouldn’t have put much store in the characters or plots and that it needed changing, and that those changes were for the better.

This guy then starts ranting that he feels personally slighted, and he wails about how bad the was for him.

That he can’t believe the sense of entitlement from people who get when they spend a lot of money for something that fails to deliver in any way, shape or form.

There’s no self-analysis.

There’s no recognition that if he’d have done his job right that the whole show would have gone differently.

No recognition that he had made changes that were un-necessary, that he’d failed to inspire the actors – good actors, not a bunch of still in drama school – that he’d set the whole thing up wrong and then had the cheek to charge outrageously for the product.

You might come away from watching that interview even more angry than you were at the poor quality of the show itself.

You might come away from watching that vowing that you would never go and see anything even vaguely connected to his name again.

And wish him well for the future?

Jesus, even if you’d been a fan before nothing is more sure-fire certain to switch you off for good than seeing this joker, who after all is still taking his fee, and whose entire lifestyle has been built on the back of his audience, pissing all over them.

A hard night for him?

What about all you poor bastards who paid good money to watch it?

And you might also think that he’s done his prospects no little damage as well, because if he’ll treat his home-town audience like this, the people who’ve been loyal to him for years, then why would Broadway even entertain his petty, snide, self-centredness? His egotism?

His failure to admit when he’s wrong?

Major theatre owners like to see a little humility from their producers when things go to shit. They don’t want somebody who refuses to take any personal responsibility … far less one who blames the audience and assures that some never come back.

Sulking, bitter, self-absorbed prima donnas are common in that business … but nobody likes them and one of the things big time theatre owners love is when one of them self-destructs, giving everyone a reason to freeze them out for a while.

So this guy might find it difficult ever getting hired as a producer and director again. Moreover, he might find it hard to find a drop of sympathy for his position when he’s struggling to get back into the business.

Most importantly, he’s no longer the local hero; he’s a money-grubbing mercenary who made his living off the back of the audience he’s just disdained.

Guys like that, who cares what their next move is?

Who cares if they even have a career?

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