Actor Rafe Spall has described the theatre industry as a “closed shop”, claiming this makes it harder to break in to than television or film.
Spall, who is nominated for an Olivier award for his role in the National Theatre’s Hedda Gabler, said the industry can be hesitant to take risks on new talent.
“Theatre is definitely a world which is harder to break into. It’s a closed shop. I think people are very anxious about casting people who aren’t trained or don’t have previous experience in theatre because they are worried they might not be able to do it,” he told The Stage.
“You need people to take risks, which is what’s wonderful about places like the Royal Court and the National Theatre; giving people opportunities is important. I didn’t go to drama school and I’m so thankful for those opportunities I was given,” Spall added.
A 2015 report into the socioeconomic background of people working in the performing arts found that 77% were from middle-class backgrounds, with those identifying as working class facing a “bleak picture” when trying to break into the industry.
Spall, the son of actor Timothy Spall, said he had always wanted to follow his father’s footsteps in the theatre, and is more proud of his successes on stage than in television or film.
“Genuinely, all I’ve ever wanted to do is to make a success out of being a theatre actor and I’ve been lucky enough to have been given these opportunities. When you get them you want to be able to convert them and pull it off, so [being nominated for an Olivier] is a slight bit of validation.”
Spall is nominated in the best actor in a supporting role category, alongside Brian J Smith, Freddie Fox and Anthony Boyle.
The Olivier Awards will take place on April 9.