Thursday, 30 June 2011

On the Nature of Dreams

In today's edition of The Stage, Danny Lee Wynter has written an article on his experiences with the fickle nature of the arts industry. Where one minute you are loved, with your pick of jobs, and everyone knows who you are. The next you are back waiting tables, wondering how you got there. In the same edition it is reported that 'UK theatre is hotbed for bullying'.

So far, so shattered dreams of an industry built on the magic of performance etc. Well. Actually, is anyone really surprised?

The arts industry is so notoriously over-subscribed that it's gone beyond the point of cliche to say so. I have friends, fantastic performers, techies and other arts professionals who haven't worked on a single show since graduating. Now, granted it's only been a year, but there are people who train for years who just never work. Given the difficulties inherent in mounting productions - from raising the revenue to put the show on, to cultivating an audience, to solving all the little niggles and larger problems associated with co-ordinating a large number of people through different tasks like construction, rehearsals, and marketing - it is sometimes a wonder that any of them happen at all.

It seems to me that those people who "succeed" (and the definition of success in the arts industry is necessarily flexible) are those who are utterly tenacious. Those who believe that things will get better, regardless of how bad they are now. And similarly those who maximise the good times, in the knowledge that it could all disappear overnight. But most importantly, to get anywhere, people have to know who you are. So, very often, shamlessness can get you very far.

Looking at it another way, we're all mad.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Theatre, like all the arts, is a matter of personal opinion and taste. What one person loves, another can possess surprisingly aggressive negative views on. This is useful to remember when not only watching, but creating performances for others. On the one hand, it helps to put my own thoughts about the productions I see in perspective, and - similarly - to deal with the varying opinions I encounter about my own work. Including my own.

Surely this is what makes the arts so interesting - they are life-responsive and rely on honest feedback to thrive. As artists we must find our audience, but I think that there is an audience out there for everyone, no matter how left-field your work might be. We are none of us unique enough to find no one sharing our taste.

So...bearing all this in mind...where does personal taste rank with quality and professionalism in the assessment of a piece of theatre? E.g. in awarding prizes like the Olivier awards. Or, to put it another way, how can you honestly judge a piece of work alongside another, when one is not to your own taste? Is there such a thing as lack of bias in the arts? Should there be?

Just a thought.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


So, it's been a little while since my last post. That's mostly because my days have been filled with the following:

1. Sifting through hundreds of applications for auditions for 'The Importance of Being Earnest'
2. Preparation for, and beginning my second project as visiting director for BOVTS.
3. Taking part in the 24 hour plays in Bath - the third time I've done such a mad thing, but one of the best.
4. Tackling my newest challenge - a one-man TIE show. Can't say much at this stage, just that it is something I've never done before, has the potential to reach a lot of people, and is really testing my skills as a director. Exciting!
5. Various trips back and forth to London. Mostly social.

So it's been quite a good period of time. And I tentatively feel like I've taken one of those little steps forward in my long game.

How marvellous. Let's enjoy it for now...

PS my iTunes thinks it's Christmas. No, iTunes, I don't want to hear Al Greens 'Christmas Song' on the first of June. Thanks.