What do you know about corporate acting?
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Paul Clayton’s book So You Want to be a Corporate Actor. I know well how it feels to write and develop a book and the frisson of excitement (it never palls) when at last, the finished product is in your arms like a new-born baby, having been there many times myself.
So I was delighted to celebrate at The Actor’s Centre (where Clayton is Chair of the Board) with the author, staff from Nick Hern Books and various other guests.
Clayton, of course, is well established as an actor and director but this is his first book. It also seems to be the first book about corporate acting and the way in which actors can earn money, not by treading the boards or getting on-screen, but by working in conference and training rooms employed by businesses and public sector organisations to help, for example, with staff training through role play and other techniques. Clayton has worked extensively in this sector – 1400 events – as presenter, actor and casting director.
It’s a very useful source of income for actors between jobs or for those who graduate (and the training industry is, of course, training too many so there’s always a surfeit) and get few, if any, work offers. And corporate acting should, according to Clayton, be part of drama school training. His own research suggests that only 14 per cent of drama school graduates learned anything about corporate acting during their training and yet 63 per cent have worked in the sector. Unsurprisingly many young actors leaving drama school now say they feel ill-prepared to work in the corporate sector.
And like so many other fields of work these days, you need to be entrepreneurial, develop your own product and find out what aspect of your skills you can market to the corporate sector. And that might mean thinking of something that the sector hasn’t yet worked out for itself or realised that it needs. Or you might sign up with a role play company. Clayton is witty too about actors demonstrating, for example, gadgets at live events, working in those popular murder evenings in country hotels and much more. He also tells you how to compile a helpful CV, whom to approach and provides a lot more practical advice.
Reading Clayton’s book I was reminded of a drama student I met recently who told me that his income-generating part-time job was working for a hospital trust, role-playing patients with psychiatric disorders and mental health issues for doctors in training. He said it was quite well paid, good experience and interesting to do. QED. And if he isn’t inundated with stage and screen offers when he completes his training he will be able to go on paying his bills. It makes sense. And anyone who wants to do likewise could learn a great deal about how from So you want to be a Corporate Actor.