Amateur to Professional: Mind The Gap

Convener(s): Eduard Lewis      

Participants: Jon, Marie, Kelli, and Ed


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Began by addressing the fact that you are only a professional when you call yourself one. Simple…?

However, where is the point where you acknowledge the fact to yourself and others that you are a “professional” actor/writer/director/designer etc. and that these are not the same. You may call yourself a professional before others acknowledge you are one and vice versa.

Kelli said that she has begun to sheepishly call herself a professional as she has started getting paid work. For Marie it was after finishing at drama school. Jon said that he would call himself a young professional.

We moved onto discussing the age discrimination for designers and directors and how people we knew had got work because the employer thought they were older than they were. Beards help (if you’re a man). Is it a problem that there are no directors or famous designers below the age of 28/32? Yet, surely there is a joy and freedom in knowing that your work is constantly evolving and improving as you get older and that there isn’t an expiration date for a director or designer. Mentioning Peter Brook as a person who is aware of process and that Peter Hall may be an example of someone who has stood still in his practice.

Jon then spoke on how much do you have to brand yourself and turn you and your skills into a business. Do you have to pigeonhole yourself into one brand of practitioner or can you be one director/designer/actor for one application and completely different one for another? This being especially relevant when you are at the beginning of your professional practice. Employers sometimes feel uneasy if you are not direct on the style you work in. If your practice is a craft that is constantly evolving why can’t you say that to, some, potential employers?

It was then questioned whether ones experience can be self edited or marketed to appear better than it is, you make your CV look more professional than it is. Discussion was then raised on the reliability of a theatre CV, you can spin experience to seem greater than it was and it is harder for people to check up on your previous work.

Finally issues of charging were brought up. How much is a professional rate for a designer or for a workshop? How do you ensure you are not charging too much or too little and how does this then reflect your professionalism?

Conclusion: its tough. But if it wasn’t would it be worth doing it in the first place?