Inspired and Concerned

Last week I saw one piece of theatre and one reading of a new piece, plus doing an array of surgeries, coaching, and working with new producers and new directors. Tomorrow is our monthly gathering of the “Producers’ Pool” where again I will be inspired (I hope) by the desire for new creative, and new companies to make work.

I am, at times, concerned that emerging talent, especially actors, do not understand the nature of our business. They seem sometimes to forget how small and connected we all are. And they seem to forget that although they may be bored in performance, they are also offering a live experience to a new audience. It is the first time the audience has seen the show, and the experience could be make or break. There is nothing more un-enjoyable than believing you are in the presence of a bored actor. And if you are an agent or talent scout, as we all are in the profession of this business, it can completely turn us off for a particular actor or talent. If you are a regular audience member it could put you off that theatre, or that author, or that company for life.

I had one of those times. I’ve had them before in the heart of the West End, at fringe theatres around the country, at the mid-point of long runs, and just occasionally at a showcase for talent.

My call to actors (whether old guard or new entrants) – never underestimate the experience you can give us through your “presence” on stage, and your attitude off-stage.  Its a small world, you will be noticed.

That was my feeling from one experience. In my other experience this week I witnessed a group of new writers delivering a piece with a group of performers who were so completely under the skin of their characters, that I could not imagine it being done by anyone else. Not often do I get to be in a showcase house surrounded by grown-ups/trade people crying from the reading of a particular scene.

In each place this week I knew people – it’s a small world.  In each place I had been told by other people about the experience they thought I would have – because we share reactions.  And in each place it exceeded my expectations – one good, one bad.

I am not a critic, and therefore I don’t choose to criticise with names and places through this blog.  I am a champion, and so at another point I will have immense pleasure in cheering my good experience, and those involved in it, to the heights.

For now I have two cast lists variously marked with X – no thanks, blank – didn’t make an impression, ✔ – ok – they did ok,   ✔✔   thank you, I’ll keep an eye on you and hope to see you again soon. I keep the lists because my memory is useless – and maybe in years to come I will be proved right, or wrong. And if I am asked about a particular actor, I have some instant written impressions to back up my reaction.

I hope most actors reading this will know that I am not talking about them. Rebecca Jewell and I spend hours in our careers classes stressing the need for actors we teach to be aware. I hope most “get it”.

And for all of us, performer and trade, remember the 3 blocks rule – which reminds you not to gossip or be disparaging about a piece until you have walked 3 blocks away from the theatre. Everytime I go to the theatre I hope to be inspired and delighted…just occasionally I leave a bit saddened and wiser, keeping quiet for at least 3 blocks.

And a quick PS – this week our MA Theatre Directors and MA Creative Producers at Mountview launch the audition plans for the 16 productions they will be presenting this June/July as they create the Catalyst Festival. Around 40 actors and creatives will have a chance to be part of this new work, and to be spotted with an array of one and two ticks, and hopefully no crosses or blanks. PLEASE don’t email me about a part – look out for the way to apply for an audition.

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