Have actors and drama schools abandoned theatre??


Participants: Matt Alan Paul Bill plus others - Sorry – didn’t take names please sign up if you were there.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

  • Money lures actors away from theatre – they can earn 7K for a couple days filming a commercial.
  • Some want fame/to be celebs – not possible in theatre outside London
  • Students graduate with large debt which adds pressure
  • Drama school training focuses towards television and film largely
  • Are we losing expertise because young actors not experiencing a run of plays? – probably
  • Agreed there are two separate worlds – the world of theatremakers and the world of actors. Some felt this presents a problem some didn’t

These worlds have different approaches and languages and often but not always happen in different places.

MAKER World – often peopled by those trained in art colleges and universities or through just getting it together, language includes ‘making art’ ‘site specific’ ‘non building based’ usually not found in purpose built theatres.

ACTOR World – often peopled by drama school graduates who work in ‘the business’ ‘the industry’ usually working in tv, film and purpose built theatres.  Often under the influence of agents who are rarely sympathetic to a desire to spend more than a short time in a theatre.  Most start off in theatre – crux point about 5 years down the line when need to have a life kicks in. 

In some ways Regional Theatres are squidged between these two worlds. 

  • There was a discussion about the breadth of Training available in Uni’s vs Drama Schools.
  • Student showcases are more and more aimed at TV/Film not theatre.
  • Discussion of acting and that TV acting doesn’t challenge in the way that theatre does.
  • Took a mad leap into a discussion about critics press and editors and whilst it would be helpful if the national press would profile work outside London the reasons as to why that is impossible were many and peculiar.
  • Alan wanted Albert Finney back on the stage – not sure how much currency that idea had…
  • Bill was inspirational describing a journey from the RSC via subsidised touring Co in Devon to happiness in a two person touring company requiring no subsidy with a range of shows; some for children, some adult about things they believe matter; playing at Festivals all over the world and in village halls; theatre buildings are important to them to make it work


Regional Theatres/Venues could take responsibility for supporting the development of new company work – this would require investment – actual money as well as practical and in-kind support.  This could be a producing fund which the Arts Council earmark for development of groups making new work and which would remove the problem of small companies losing their penciled venues, livelihoods, homes, inspiration, relationships and will to live while they wait for a grants for the Arts application to go through.