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Dear West End Producer: ‘How can we end the hideous #actorslife? And what is theatre doing to compete with Netflix?’

West End Producer West End Producer. Photo: Matt Crockett
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You are absolutely right – #actorslife is indeed hideous. Every time I see it appear at the end of a tweet, or attached to a photo, or stencilled on to an actor’s forehead, it makes me nauseous. It implies that actors have a far more interesting life than other professionals, and has a tendency to be used in a gloating ‘look at me’ way. Just because you happen to be an actor doesn’t mean that everyone is interested, dear.

You never see other professions using hashtags to document their interesting jobs. #plumberslife, #cleanerslife #waiterslife #adminlife – it just doesn’t happen. While I understand that actors are a brand and have to sell themselves, they should do it without using this awful hashtag.

The funny thing is, actors often use it when they aren’t even on an acting job – when they happen to be standing near Elstree Studios, or have bumped into Christopher Biggins and asked for a selfie. That’s not an actor’s life, that’s normal life, dear. It is also dangerous to use, because every time someone uses #actorslife a struggling actor dies: do your bit and stop.

My dears, no one cares apart from you and your mum. So keep those ego-driven thoughts to yourself

To make matters even worse, the hashtag is often seen after a tweet saying “thrilled to announce” or “I can’t say what it is but just started working on a new project – keep your eyes peeled!” My dears, no one cares apart from you and your mum. So keep those ego-driven thoughts to yourself. The only time I don’t mind the hashtag is when it is used in an ironic way – but it hardly ever is.

Now this whole thing makes it sound like I’m not a fan of actors – which could not be further from the truth. I adore and admire them – they are my friends, colleagues and companions. I commend their passion and talent, and spend a lot of my life laughing with actors, in awe of their drive.

But the one thing I don’t like is when certain actors feel the need to show off about being an actor. You don’t need to show off. You are already admired.

So please stop trying to justify your life choice by using the word #actorslife, and just enjoy your #life. Actors – give yourself a challenge. The next time you feel your fingers creeping towards your mobile device to post something, use my DRAMA method to help diffuse your #actorslife habit:

D – Don’t do it

R – Resist.

A – Ask yourself why?

M – call your Mum.

A – Alcohol (have a drink instead).

As for your question about what theatre can do to compete with Netflix – you’ve raised an interesting point. Perhaps it’s time that theatre followed a Netflix-type model.

Theatre that people subscribe to, giving them access to different theatre productions. What an idea! Maybe it’s the future of the West End – by paying a yearly subscription you get to watch numerous shows throughout the year. Who knows? I’ll have a word with Lloyd Webber and Cameron to see what they think, dear.

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer

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