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Dear West End Producer: ‘What does Brexit mean for actors?’

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Brexit. Oh my. What a daunting subject. Honestly, I preferred the term when it meant leaving breakfast early. But now obviously it means leaving something completely different. It’s a worrying, confusing time – and all because we got tricked by a bus.

However, there are lessons to be learned. For instance, one should never simply accept information without further investigation – just like when one is offered a show ‘prior to the West End’. It rarely means any future life at all and, if it does, the ‘West End’ turns out to be a fringe venue in zone 4.

So, how will Brexit affect actors? Firstly, European accents will be banned and actors will be required to speak in their mother tongue, with an emphasis on making themselves sound as British as possible. Actors with European-sounding names will be required to change their stage name to something more British, and all new headshots will have to have the Union Jack in the background.

Obviously, touring will be restricted to the UK, and then only to locations that are not ‘twinned’ with European cities. If there are any international tours, these will only be to countries where actors can get through customs in less than two days (with their new blue passports).

However, the biggest problem for actors will be the lack of freedom of movement. Many actors already have a problem with being free in their movement, and Brexit will make this even more challenging. Movement sessions will be strict, certain moves will be banned, and actors won’t be allowed the freedom of adding their own movement into a production (to be fair, most West End musicals don’t allow this anyway, dear).

The most popular movement used in post-Brexit shows will be the ‘May Dance’ – inspired by Theresa May’s recent display of embarrassing Abba dance moves.

Actors will also find themselves facing a lot more competition – with those ministers who have quit government taking seasonal acting roles to boost their measly MP salaries. At future pantomimes you’ll see David Davis giving his Abanazar (in Humberside), Dominic Raab playing Muddles (in Esher), and Esther McVey giving her Fairy Godmother (in a fringe theatre in Tatton).

Productions will also have to be renamed to show allegiance to our green and pleasant land. For example, Les Miserables will be called The Miserable Lot, Notre Dame De Paris will be known as Our Lady of Grimsby, and Martin Guerre will be renamed Jack Smith. The West End will have a resurgence of UK-themed productions, with popular shows such as London Road, No Sex Please, We’re British, and Sunday in Hyde Park with George (Galloway) playing for years.

On a serious note… a lack of freedom of movement will obviously have a negative effect – the easy access to Europe helps develop audiences and provide revenues that subsidise some UK productions, in turn creating more opportunities for actors and artists. It is all rather depressing, and makes me want to get sloshed.

Anyhow, on a more positive note I hope you had a wonderfully theatrical Christmas, and wishing you all a jazz-hand-packed 2019, dear!

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer

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