Victor Esses, 25 January 2015

We opened the discussion by raising the following:

- are there same opportunities for foreign practitioners?

- do they have a strong presence in the field?

- are audiences interested in this kind of work?

We began by discussing about working in the British environment and its expectations.

There is a culture which is very specific and there's a feeling that it needs to be

cracked (i.e. not acting so keen, being more discreet)

When it comes to new writing there was a general feeling that the market is more

closed off to foreign practitioners living in the UK, as the tendency is to look for the

new British playwright, new British director and so on…

There are places that focus on international people such as the Royal Court and its

foreign language writing programme.

The Lyric's Secret theatre and Wacth This Space at Southbank were mentioned as

great projects in this area.

We discussed the fact that many British directors are moving to Berlin to find

inspiration and to be freer in their work. The theatre here seems to be more

conventional it was said.

In general the feeling was that when international work is mentioned people don't want

to know about it in depth.

There was a distinction made between work brought from a foreign country and

presented here and work that is produced here by foreigners.

London is such a mixed place and it does reflect on the theatre scene. Meaning it is

still an exciting place for all of us and here we wanted to talk more about people's

experience of this.

It seems when work is produced here with a Foreign label (such as Brazil) there are

aesthetic expectations (such as dance, favelas, etc). But it's hard to make general

work from abroad without that culture as a selling point. What affects is cultural

background, aesthetic and language.

Producer Tracy Gentles mentioned there's a diversity drive at the moment and being

from somewhere else should be celebrated. She also said that being mixed race in the

theate environment in the UK is still challenging with an energy of “you should be

grateful for this opportunity” coming her way. There is still a class system issue and

ethnic inequality.

So there is still the idea of ‘the other’ where people from abroad would be included and

it might be a little harder to make those main advertised jobs and so on.

What people see as white in the UK is different than in other places. White in South

America is latino, middle eastern and so on here.

The definition of BAME is vast and foreign artists should make the most of it - this is

the time to explore foreignness

Israeli Nir from Theatre Ad Infinitum said he needed to do a show about being Israeli,

to get it out of his system before he could then be the artist he wanted to be. But that

now it makes no difference the fact that he is Israeli and he is well inserted in the

British “market” and that his company partner is British.

Earlier, physical theatre artist Lina from company The Purple Ladies says it makes no

difference in her field as her work is mainly physical.

The sense was that when it comes to physical work nationalities are not that big of a

deal but when it comes to text based work it's a different story.

Actor Rob Cavazos and a Chinese-American actor both thought that their nationalities

influence in castings. Cavazos said once people know he is Mexican he is too white to

play a mexican but too mexican to play a white man. The second one said that his

accent is too American to play a Chinese man.

Polish director Anna Mors told of situations in which she was talked down in

production meetings and asked if she wanted that the person talked slower as she has

a strong eastern European accent and that even though she was over qualified for

several theatre jobs she applied to she couldn't understand why she wasn't chosen, to

then think maybe it could be for her accent and so on…

German journalist Alexander Menden said that it is an advantage to be a foreigner in

the beginning as you can wear it (like a friend of his) but after a few years one gets

anglicized and become part of the culture and it gets harder to use it and the identity is

almost lost.

American performance artist Paula Varjack says the beauty of poeple is to be from

somewhere else…

Tracy Gentles concludes that in general it will depend on the artist's portfolio like all

others and one needs to go through the system.

And that the advantage one has is that being from abroad they don't fit into the British

class system and therefore they're not discriminated for that matter.

— I would be interested in building a data base with institutions, programmes, grants

and so on that are interested in international work and international practitioners. If you

would like to contribute please write a comment and/or e-mail me

[email protected]


BAME, diversity, Diversity, Foreign, International, Opportunities, multicultural, foreign,

bame, international, opportunities