Gerard Bell, 10 January 2016

….this report is sort of finished…

I chose the space ‘Monkey’. Because my brother was a monkey and my sister is: In

chinese horoscopes: which I don't follow.

It was in the other room; and quiet. Though not all the areas were empty. One either

person joined me - Kalila Stoney. People come up from time to time, looked down at

the question and moved on.

Clearly my title was meaningless or incomprehensible. People would come and

politely ask if they could borrow one of our chairs, and after a while they just came up

and took one.

What happened was that Kalila and I had a really good chat for almost the whole

‘allotted’ time, not to do with the question, but often casting light on it; and this is some

of what we said.

It is strange' that there are heirarchies; that there

are gatekeepers.

I make my own work. So i feel, then, that I am in power. At the same time it is harder

because there is nowhere to hide. ( Is it easier to take work from a director in a

conventional theatre set up because you can ‘hide’ more; have less responsibility?)

When you go asking to the Arts Council - and we referred back to the conversation on

'emerging' there are hops to jump through - how much do you change & adapt what

you do in satisfying the funder? -( or the people who cast you?)

It seems, it can seem, that to day you have to have a shiny product, that you should

have a shiny product ( a ‘brand’).

We have no money really mostly…. BUT how many people are so lucky as we all are,

to spend our life doing what we do/

THe word ‘practice’ came up for the second time. That is what we do Kalila said. We

spend our life in our practice. She equated practice as an activity with prayer.

How accurate is one's perception of oneself? Can we do as much as we think. The

outsider ( the director?) has a more limited view. …

….The only answer is to do your work yourself.

Are the arts the only area where we expect to receive funding?….. But no. Science

research essentially needs funding, and there are probably other areas. Individually,

for ourselves, and as societies we can't live without arts; it is an essential human

activity. There are other humanitarian needs - clothing, food, a home, medicine, but it

is also a humanitarian need. There is an arts space in the refugee camp at Calais.

They want people top come . They want to participate. Kalila, with her organization

had visited mining communities in the north midlands. She witnessed the difference it

made. You can put a roof heads but this is not really empowering. Participation in art

can be.

There is probably never going to be equality in the theatre.Directors are vulnerable:

questions can be challenging.

Why ARE there hierarchies in the arts? Are they useful?

There had been a lot of conversations.“ There is a lot of bullshit” .meaning we don ‘t

always say the right thing: or not at first…or it is hard to be honest.

We need a little more honesty. We are not encouraged to talk about our failures. We

should say “I am great”. But then we do tend to ’undersell' ourselves ( out of modesty/

timidity/ necessity?) …“ if I was just a little more confident”. Yet this is very weird in “a

profession that is about showing the human condition” and we are meant to show a

veneer, highly polished. Success. To get work.

Does the power all come down to money - who holds it and who receives it?

It is strange in an industry that is meant to be so liberal that there are the same power

structures, the same operating structures as in any other industry. May be more so

because we do not recognize this but believe we are more liberal, more sensitive.

…An anecdote….speaking to someone who worked in a corporate company, they

said: this open space structure is quite normal - here what D&D provides for us is still


When it comes to asking for money, we find it hard, we shy as if we don't deserve it.

People in the UK certainly are very cagey when nit comes to saying what they earn.

Does this help keep heirarchies in place? More open-ness would break them down.

It seemed that more honesty - about where we stood, where the power was, what we

felt, would break the heirarchies down, … dialogue is what we need.

The conversation then wondered back and forward, even more.

“ If we make theatre…are we middle class”.? Kalila was told she was.

Do we likebeing directed? Do we have too much of our own idea? So we are


Can you contradict directors? As they contradict or correct the performer? Is that


How much can you push for a part, or funding support. They might never know you

were exactly the right person otherwise.

Or it might be a foolish pursuit. Not to say harassment. It is like conducting a love



So what was the original question?

Kalila had thought that it was about equality between the provider ( the maker, or

performer) and the receiver ( the audience), but it was, in fact about, equality between

the provider ( the director, casting director maybe,) and the receiver of work ( the

actor, the performer).

What do you do, what can you do as an actor ( say) when there is a part in a piece

that you love, is acutely suited to you and you imagine you would do well and the

director ( say ) isn't even considering you. Can you do anything? How far can you put

your case without hanging back too much or being too pushy?

Given that your job as an actor is to be as open as possible to the text, to the piece, to

the director doesn't it compromise this availability to be pushing too hard for something.

But a problem for the actor is that this very availability which is so much a necessary

quality of the actor, also puts them in a subservient position too easily.

There is an imbalance of power between the director and the actor that is impossible

to resolve, and it may be unrealistic to want it. The director is the none who, in this

arrangement, has the work and the actor is the one who wants it and there are far

more actors available who want it than there is work. The only power the actor has is

to turn the part down. So what say can the actor have? do they have a right to say

..this part belongs too me'

Maybe just a more open conversation about it would be enough. Very often though the

director or casting director recoils from an approach. Is the actor crossing into territory,

then, that they shouldn't?

I am putting out some questions, and there are many more and I ,seriously, do not no

what the answers are. As I seriously do not know how proper it is to pursue a job, and

how far you can go. I do think there could be more equality between director and

actors while maintaining their chosen functions. Both are equal collaborative

contributors, though it seldom functions like this. The actor, certainly, needs to feel this

…that they have equal value, that they are not petitioners. And it maybe that the only

way to do this is to do your own work. Or accept the scarcity equably.

One last thought I found no place to fit in… There is this thing of the specific and

limited way an actor may be viewed. That I imagine them like this. When the actor

covers more ground.

It also puzzles me. If I see someone good I would engage them to do almost anything

because I can see the way they work is good, and I'd always want to work with them.

As opposed to finding just the right person ( or people) for the role (s), which I think is

a less reliable illusion.

We discussed the audience/performer equality as well. One thing we decided was that

there should be equalness there, that both are in it together; and that if they are too

divided by the lighting with one side hiding in the light and the other in the dark, and

the audience activity is reduced….we don't go for it.


Director, actor, Actor, equality, Collaboration, independence, independence,

Independence, DIRECTOR, collaboration, ACTOR, director, Equality