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Harry Potter sound designer claims industry should be doing more for emerging talent

Gareth Fry said more should be done to help new talent break into paid jobs
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Olivier award-winning designer Gareth Fry has claimed the theatre industry at large is to blame for ‘exploitation’ on the fringe.

The Harry Potter sound designer said more should be done to help new talent break into paid jobs.

Fry claimed it is incumbent on the industry’s “gatekeepers” – those who have become established in their field – to help others gain experience and credits rather than leaving low or unpaid fringe work as the only option.

In a series of Tweets, he said the debate around exploitation on the fringe needed reframing, and argued: “It is not fringe producers who are exploiting fringe workers, it is the rest of the theatre industry.”

“It is established theatre that we should be railing at, not fringe producers, to improve the fringe. Established theatres have a wealth of resources, both physically and information, that could be used to help improve the situation of those who work on the fringe.

“We should be examining how we, the gatekeepers, the employers within established theatre, let people into our industry.”

Speaking to The Stage, Fry said this should be done more on an individual level, rather than “deflecting the blame” on to large organisations.

Taking on individuals for work placements and apprenticeships, being mentors to people trying to break into the industry and supporting training schemes are some of the ways this could be achieved, he suggested.

Fry went on to explain that while there are “lots of ways the fringe can be improved”, including pay, it is a part of the theatre ecology that should be supported and celebrated.

“The fringe is a healthy, vibrant place, by and large, and a place where people can put on a show on a shoestring and look for collaborators for little or no money, and that’s not a bad thing in itself. I don’t think the problem is that those projects exist, it’s more that people feel they have to do them to get the credits they need to get paid work,” he said, adding the established industry must do more to offer alternatives, particularly when drama school is increasingly unaffordable for many.”

Fry’s work as a sound designer includes Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, for which he won an Olivier award last year, and Complicite’s binaural sound production The Encounter, which earned him and Pete Malkin a special Tony award.

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