Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 8. 1961.
Dear Sir.—It is with some concern that I read the article headed "My West Side Extrabner" in the last issue of Salient. Although it contains several expressions of opinion with which I most definitely disagree but which I respect and regard as being fair comment, It also contains several misstatements of facts which, if allowed to pass without correction, could cause considerable misunderstanding as to the place of Extrav. amongst student activities in the University. As the article was unsigned I am entitled to presume that it was editorial comment. However, I suspect that It was not, editors are usually more careful with their presentation of facts. I would be obliged if the Editor would clarify this point. [See editorial comment below.]
The article states that other organisations have been compelled to vacate rooms for Extrav. and examples inter alia the Jazz Club in 1960. This particular instance is a case where there could not have been better co-operation between two student groups—although Extrav. had booked the room the Jazz Club wanted well in advance and was accordingly entitled to the use of it, the Extrav. committee went out of its way to make it available for the Jazz Club on Sunday afternoons and at no time did Extrav. interfere with their activities as a result. This is far from riding "roughshod over the interests of other students" as the article alleges.
The article continues on to say that the show is becoming more and more like an American musical. Although this may be a matter of opinion, I would point out that 90% of the songs in this year's show were plaigarised from English musicals or were original compositions. The reference to "Peter in Blunderland" and "Jubileevit" makes one wonder whether the writer of the article actually saw either of these shows, for if he did he must have gone to a matinee with his kindergarten teacher. They were both played in the 1940's.
The statement that the show can't exist without non-students backstage and in the show shows a great lack of understanding and observation on the part of someone. In the Opera House (or any other Wellington theatre) it is compulsory that Extrav. employs a minimum of at least eight registered Theatrical Union professional employees. I assure you, that if we could avoid doing so, we would. The writer agrees that non-students should not play the leading parts in the show. I would inform Salient that this year all leading parts were played by bona fide students. There were only two non-students in this year's cast, one of which was there only because a student, whose father became very ill. had to pull out of the show quite late in the piece. The other person concerned was a girl who, until just after the show, I was under the impression was a student. I endorse the article's opinion that only students should participate in the show—I kept this principle in mind this year and succeeded in adhering to it strictly, save for the one exception. In the past the practice has been to obtain Executive approval for a non-student to play a lead part. This year we had no occasion to seek this approval.
The article refers to "the emphasis given to alcoholic refreshments." This year there were only three official Extrav. socials at which the liquid refreshments were provided by Extrav. for the company. Beer was provided only (coke and punch for the girls. The total cost for liquor for the three nights was £39, and an average of 120 to 130 people attended on each occasion. Rather than spend any extra Extrav. funds on liquor for the final function, two members of the committee between them shouted the company nine gallons of beer to ensure that there was an adequate amount lo provide for everyone. I regard the amount spent on liquor by Extrav. as a very small reward for the great job all those connected with the show do, particularly the cast. The article made reference to bad public relations, but to my mind Extravaganza is the best public relations improver that we have at University and let's face it. our public relations with the city in general are not the best.
Your article mentioned that Extrav. made a loss in 1959. If the facts had been checked it would have been found that it, in fact, made a profit of just over that year. Over the past few decades the several thousand pounds earned by Extrav. have given the Student Union Building fund quite a considerable boost. But, despite this, Extrav. is refused any space in the new building to store its equipment and we all know that Hut II is due to come down in the near future.
Generally, the reports and articles in Salient are accurate, but I suggest some (the minority) Salient writers would do better if they provided the students with facts instead of relying on hearsay and half-informed comment. I do not mind criticism—it's a good and healthy thing-but I do like a fair presentation of facts. I trust that there will be more accuracy among the critics of Extrav. in the future. Yours, etc.,
Latham Stubbs,Extravaganza Organiser, 1961
(The article was not editorial comment: Salient reporter Mr D. Flude wrote that article, though his name had been inadvertently omitted. It is also fair to point out that not all of Mr Flude's article had been printed—owing to the shortage of space in issue 7. Regarding Extravaganza administration, however. Salient would point out that at a recent staff meeting the following motion had been passed: ". . . In all cases, the Salient staff completely support our Editor." Carried 28-0. This motion was related in particular to certain unfortunate aspects of Extravaganza administration: (i) The treatment of the 1960 Jazz Club— to which Mr Stubbs replied, (ii) The treatment of Salient 1961 Mr Stubbs may care to reply to this, (iii) The treatment of the 1961 Judo Club (see elsewhere in this issue)—Mr Stubbs or whoever responsible may care to reply to this. Regarding the theatrical side of Extravaganza, the Editor has no adverse comments to make. He was invited to see Extravaganza; he saw Extravaganza: and he enjoyed Extravaganza.]