The plight of an actor, be it Dame Judi, your aspiring drama school graduate, or your average kid born with toe on pointe has always been that of a struggle. Whether it be regarding finance, work opportunities, or the relentless shadow of rejection that lurks and whispers over the shoulders of every casting director. Every actor enters the industry with a notion of just how cutthroat it can be. However, without knowing how to navigate it, the reality can be so much more crushing.

Of course, the desire to perform should always come from a place of passion. A craving for the grease paint and bright lights; the rush of the half-hour call already pulsing through their veins. Yet sometimes, all it takes is the blunt refusal of a casting director to knock all of this. I, for one, despite performing not being my forte, have come to reason with the fact that I shall never play Sally Bowles on a West End stage because I am simply not right for the part. Whilst this is a difficult truth to grapple with – my rendition of ‘Mein Herr’ would be nothing short of mesmerising – not being right for a role should not diminish one’s talents as a performer; there are simply roles better suited for you. The gut-wrenching “no” of the casting director is a total kick in the teeth, especially after the amount of preparation and idealisation that goes into the audition process. But sometimes one must acknowledge that this role was perhaps not written for them, and maybe next time they’ll win. So please, do not let anyone behind a casting panel hide your light under a bushel. It may not burn bright for this part, but it’s perfectly blazing for another.

Then, of course, there is the tale as old as time: the financial stresses of being an artist. No job is stable, contracts end, projects fall through, and Andrew Lloyd Webber is always chomping at the bit to shut another musical via Instagram. However, if the average human changes jobs around five times, surely sticking with performing is one of the best ways to experience every career imaginable? Going from being a French revolutionary on the barricades to one year to being a singing tree; one must weigh up whether the stress of the job is worth the rewards. Moreover, providing production companies follow equatorial and wellbeing guidelines, there are now measures in place to ensure that performers receive fair and livable wages (this, of course, varies depending on the company and whether the piece is regional, West End or touring). With this factored in, it is the space between jobs that becomes one’s enemy, but even some of the most accomplished performers have held down a side hustle in order to make their dream a reality. So, adaptability and drive is crucial to maintaining the trajectory to breakthrough. 

There is one enemy in the industry that we all share, the apex predators if you will, the triple threats! That was a joke, or not, but for every role that you are suited for, there are a hundred others with fresh interpretations that covet that same role.  Sadly there is often only room for one name on the billing – but as I said earlier, performing should come from a place of passion! Of course, jobs can be scarce and there will be nights worrying whether or not it’s time to give in, but I can assure you that persevering is the only way to succeed in the industry, that and dropping sandbags on people’s ankles.

Categories: Arts Theatre

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *