Emily Howlett’s experience of being turned down by an agent who feared she might “restrict her opportunities” is symptomatic of our industry’s reluctance to take into account the challenges faced by freelance professionals with caring responsibilities.
The Actors’ Children’s Trust believes: “No child should be disadvantaged in life because their parent is an actor, and no actor should be disadvantaged in their career because they are a parent.”
ACT provides financial support and advice to eligible actor-parents. We help new parents back into work with grants for childcare, and also fund travel during contracts that take parents away from their families for long periods.
On the whole, actors make terrific and creative parents. Parenthood can enrich and deepen actors’ work.
No doubt the agent in question was responding in the context of the status quo. All the more reason for the whole industry to get its act together and support the efforts of Parents and Carers in Performing Arts and its partners in improving the lives of parents, carers and families.
Chair, Actors’ Children’s Trust
It’s time the industry stepped into the 21st century and became inclusive. How can it represent society if it acts like it’s in a previous century? This isn’t a period drama, it’s real life. Agents need to understand this attitude is unacceptable.
I would be interested to know if any other actors are sick to death of walking into a rehearsal room and then being subjected to all manner of drama school games and practices and be expected to join in with them.
As a professional person, I regard it my responsibility to arrive ‘warmed up’ and ready for work. I trained at East 15, so I am no stranger to these practices and indeed use them in my own private preparation before hitting a rehearsal room floor. But I object to the never-ending use of them by directors during an entire rehearsal period in which the text often suffers and directors seem reluctant to actually direct.
In my experience, a large proportion of valuable rehearsal time is being wasted playing ball games and indulging in meaningless improvisation or ‘movement work’, which, in the end, has very little effect on or relevance to the quality of the end product. On the contrary, it often has a detrimental effect upon the work as a mad scramble occurs as opening night approaches and the lack of rehearsal time caused by these practices becomes all too apparent.
We all arrive at our performances in our own unique ways. I would never dream of subjecting my fellow actors to my particular ‘method’ of work, there is no need. We are highly trained, professional people who have already been to drama school.
I am sure we all wish to continue to explore and refine our work. I for one would find my job a lot more creative and believe my work would be of a higher quality if I were given the chance to work on the script and get on with the job for which I was trained – that of rehearsing and delivering the play.
Name and address supplied
As usual in a discussion about Patrick Hamilton’s Gaslight, the article moves to the American, too plush, film version, ignoring the earlier British one directed by Thorold Dickinson, with Diana Wynyard, Anton Walbrook and Frank Pettingell, which effortlessly generates an atmosphere of menace.
Peter J Sutton
Nick Smurthwaite’s excellent article following the recent post-refurb reopening of Croydon’s Fairfield Halls brought back many memories of my visits there in my teens and 20s.
Shortly after it opened in 1962, the Croydon branch of the National Union of Journalists, of which I am a life member, organised a cabaret in aid of what was then called its Widows and Orphans Fund. It featured the town’s comedic son Roy Hudd who, at the launch of his autobiography in 2009 signed my copy: “To David – a fellow Croydonian – from the original Fart in a Colander”, a reference to his grandmother’s description of him.
As a contributor to the Croydon Advertiser’s youth column, I organised a trip to a Cyril Fletcher and Betty Estell Ashcroft Theatre pantomime for some of the children from a local Barnardo’s home, who afterwards met the couple backstage. I think it was there that I later encountered zany performers the Alberts, whose version of The Sheik of Araby included the arrival on stage of a life-sized papier-maché camel that exuded straw bricks from its posterior on the turn of a handle on its side. Unintentional comedy was provided on another occasion – in the main hall – by the Band of the Royal Marines in which thunderflashes went off during a quiet passage in the 1812 Overture rather than in the climax.
When the American Folk, Blues and Gospel Caravan, which included Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, the Blind Boys of Alabama and Sister Rosetta Tharpe on the bill, arrived at the venue in 1964, I took along a female cub reporter and, coming from a somewhat severe Baptist family, was shocked when she began gyrating in the aisle to the beats of the music.
I wish Neil Chandler, artistic director of Fairfield Halls, every success and must return to my home town to see what transformations he and his team have wrought.
David J Savage
“I don’t understand commercial theatre. Theatre that’s bound to do anything other than surprise […] Wait. That’s not true. Hello, Dolly! on Broadway is one of the best things I’ve ever seen and also one of the weirdest. But, with the exception of Hello, Dolly!, I don’t get commercial theatre.” Playwright Annie Baker (Guardian)
“Madani Younis walking away from the Southbank is why representation politics is bullshit. Pulling in black and brown faces in seemingly ‘positions of power’ without the emotional infrastructure to support radical work that isn’t about maintaining power and upholding structures. What’s the point of ‘encouraging’ black and brown people into these positions when as a sector we aren’t willing to dismantle what leadership looks like under the gaze of whiteness?” Producer Tobi Kyeremateng (Twitter)
“The best performance in Lungs at the Old Vic last night was the teenage girl who shouted at Matt Smith and Claire Foy: ‘You’re both being pricks’ just as their introspection was starting to drag. She stole the show.” Journalist Susannah Butter (Twitter)
“In England, diversity is top of the chain. Obviously anyone from my background or who looks like me will be in an environment more prone to success. It’s a great time, it’s very inspiring. When I started, nobody had ever looked like me playing Romeo.” Dancer Carlos Acosta (Evening Standard)
“I did many auditions to stand on this stage and sing Bring Him Home in Les Misérables. Dear audience member who joined in – I’ve got this.” Actor Killian Donnelly (Twitter)
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