Actor Adrian Scarborough has said that “London actors” should commit to more work away from the capital to help support regional theatre.
The Olivier award-winning actor, who recently starred in The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse, said he had found “great riches” from working in regional theatre, but warned that too few actors consider travelling across the UK for jobs.
Scarborough was speaking as he collected the WhatsOnStage award for best supporting actor for his role in the play, alongside Mark Gatiss.
He told The Stage: “I think [actors] can be reluctant [to work in the regions]. But also, it has to be said that financially you need money in the bank to be able to afford to do so, and that means it’s not always possible.
“I completely understand that. But I do think that if one does get the opportunity, it is increasingly important to support regional theatre.”
Scarborough’s comments were backed up by Nottingham Playhouse’s artistic director Adam Penford, who collected the WhatsOnStage award for best play revival for The Madness of George III.
Penford said he understood that for actors, especially those with families, working away from home can be difficult, but argued that regional theatre is “the lifeblood of the industry”, as well as a training ground for performers.
“We should really celebrate actors when they make that commitment. The only reason we were able to make [The Madness of George III] happen was because Mark Gatiss was able to put the dates in his diary two years in advance, and that commitment was what allowed us to present it,” he said.
Their comments follow concerns raised by leading artistic directors of a growing trend among actors to turn down work outside London in order to keep themselves free for West End or television jobs.
Sam Hodges, artistic director of Nuffield Southampton Theatres, said he would encourage actors to make a commitment in advance to one regional production a year, which would set an example to younger performers and enable theatres like his to “take more risks”.