Dear West End Producer: ‘What are the dos and don’ts of an end of contract party?’
— Thomas Mitchells (@IAmTomMitchells) July 4, 2017
An end of contract party can be huge fun. Not only will there be crates of free alcohol and nibbles (and nipples), but it will usually take place during the last week of a job – when everyone will be feeling a giddy mix of freedom and sadness at the prospect of it ending. And this can be dangerous.
The company party is designed to make everyone offend as many people as possible. With a belly full of alcohol and the entire company drunk, it can seem the perfect time to say exactly what you’ve wanted to for months. But remember – the theatre world is a small one, and you’ll probably work with these people again – so don’t get too personal in your insults (you don’t want to break the damaged drama wings of a new graduate). However, if the worst happens and you -compare the resident director to Donald Trump, you can take it back the following day – ‘I didn’t say that! You were so drunk, dear!’
You should be committed to drink as much free booze as possible – after eight shows a week (10 if you’re working for Billy), you deserve it. There will be money put behind the bar, so make a pact with your company friends (if you have any) to get savagely sloshed. It’s a good idea to play the traditional ‘end of show’ drinking game. This is where you down your drink whenever anyone asks if you’ve got any other acting work lined up. If you’ve been touring in a musical, I guarantee you’ll be passed out on the floor before 10pm by playing this game.
Don’t sleep with anyone unless they’re in a position to offer you more acting work
Don’t sleep with anyone unless they’re in a position to offer you more acting work. The offer to sleep with an understudy or person working front of house will seem very tempting. But steer clear. You must never, ever sleep with anyone who has a worse agent than you. Always think of your reputation. Sleeping with a nobody will lead to nothing. However, sleeping with the director, casting director or producer may result in you getting another job. So plan ahead. Particularly if it involves your panty region, dear.
If the party happens the night before a matinee, don’t worry, you should still get savagely sloshed – it’s the management’s fault for planning it that way. The only way they’ll learn is by having a stage full of hungover actors dribbling their way through a midweek matinee.
There is often an awards ceremony at end-of-show parties – celebrating the best and worst moments. This includes awards like ‘worst corpser’, ‘biggest mistake’, ‘slut of the company’, and ‘biggest penis’. If you don’t win one of these it means you’ve been far too well behaved and must promise to do better next time.
And finally, tell everyone how much you’ve enjoyed the job – even if you haven’t. This way the important people will think you’re a most agreeable sort and call you in to -audition for their next production of Free Willy: The Musical. Have fun and leave your dignity at the door, dear.
Questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer