How Can Local Actors Become More Employable to Theatre/Film Companies Within and Visiting Devon

Melanie Downs, 11 September 2012

Who was there: Melanie, Martin, Lizzie, Matilda

Moving to Devon after enjoying a relatively successful and varied career as a professional actor in London, I quickly realised that finding work, even auditions, in the South West was difficult, to say the least. I called this session because I wanted to know firstly, why don't local actors get employed by local companies/theatres and/or visiting companies and secondly, if we can do anything to create more work for actors in Devon and Cornwall.
One thing that has become apparent since re-locating here, is that the biggest producing theatre in the area - Theatre Royal Plymouth, does not seem to be interested in using local actors, other than in their community productions. This is something that I found puzzling and surprising. I assumed (somewhat naively) that they would be keen to use local, professional talent. I was told by a local actor that in order to get an audition the best thing to do, is to put on your Resume that you live in London. Baffling!! I raised this point in the session, and a fellow professional actor who had previously lived in Manchester, stated that he didn't think it was that the Theatre Royal doubted that local actors had the ability - more that they doubted their commitment. Specifically, that having moved away from London, as an actor you are putting a question mark over your commitment levels. So, effectively, you have chosen not to live in city where actors tend to live and work, and this could reflect somewhat negatively with regards to how much you really want ‘it’. This I found interesting, as I

had never really given that much thought.
We discussed the smaller, successful local companies and agreed that many of them had ‘closed books’ - using the same actors for each production and not really seeking any new company members.
It is clear that in order to sustain a career as an actor in Devon, you have to create your own work, by yourself or with fellow actors. We decided to swap email addresses and to meet and share ideas, and to see what may come of it.
We also discussed The Bike Shed Theatre, the space that they have available there to workshop ideas and the bright future of the theatre.
So, all in all, we were unable to answer the question, and are none the wiser how we can convince casting directors/artistic directors of the larger companies to start to audition local actors, but we answered a different question: How can I act and create theatre, and still live in the area that I love: Devon. Answer: Share ideas, support each other and, hopefully, create. Watch this space :)


Local, Employability, Devon, devon, actors, Actors, local