It’s been a pretty glum couple of weeks for yours truly personally, however Doctor theatre, a brief spell in the sun and the prospect of Jingling Bells and mince pies have restored my spirits. Enough for a good old rant anyway.
Mother always said that if you can’t say anything nice then you shouldn’t say it at all. Fiddle that.
Over the course of the last year I have done my fair share of fringe productions, from Theatre Delicatessen, to the 503 and have had the pleasure of working with some incredibly imaginative, insightful directors, some exceedingly resourceful, focussed producers, and techies and actors that wouldn’t be out of place at the National/Royal Court/(insert theatre of choice).
I feel so proud of the fringe productions I have been a part of, and truly believe that the vibrant off-west end scene gives recent graduates the stage time they need to keep learning their craft, helps us to form those initial contacts and gives us the exposure that will lead to the next job. Plus, if you are acting, it is much easier to think, “I am an actor,” rather than, “I am going to be an actor one day.”
The pros being made clear, I have now come to a point where each unpaid or profit-share (and for ‘profit-share’, read ‘unpaid’) acting job I get now has to be carefully considered. Actors, or for that matter directors and crew, give up their day jobs, which not only costs them the expenses but their day’s wage. I don’t begrudge this all too much. Obviously I’d rather be raking it in, but you make the decision if you feel you are in the position to. Before committing yourself to a project you weigh up the pros and cons; the learning experience, the exposure and the quality of work you anticipate being produced. And, if you say yes, you commit yourself.
The distinction between fringe and amateur is not talent, but attitude (who was it that said that?) If we do not exact the same standards on ourselves as we would given a wage, then we are not professionals, we are amateurs and hobbyists. At the very least we can be courteous and respectful of those that treat such ventures as a serious enterprise.
So we come to this week’s bugbear, which I’ve been harbouring for a while…