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.

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