How important is ‘who you know’/nepostism in creating successful theatre, and do we care?                          


Convener(s): gisele edwards

Participants: david betz-hermann, sally christopher, john holmes, lucy wilkinson, steph allen,  jason ho, rikky tarascos + others.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Nepotism rife- exists everywhere. Friend of one participant says there is no point in attempting to enter some areas of film industry unless related to someone, simply not worth it. Assassination suggested as a solution.

Pointed out that in some industries legislation exists to prevent nepotism.

Reason why nepotism so prevalent in theatre is the inefficient structure of our industry: the time, resources and structures simply do not exist to ensure a level playing field. There is insufficient funding, consistency, professionalism in our field to ensure nepostism is kept to minimum.

Nepotism does not necessarily mean absence of talent- often the job is still well done. However fact is usually number of talented people who could do job just as well who don’t get the chance.

Yet relationships vital in the business- very healthy and important. What is dividing line between healthy relationships and unfair nepotism.

Agreed that key thing is not to let it upset one or get in the way of one’s interest and commitment.

Identified distinction between professional marketing and selling of oneself; some people are simply natural socialisers. 

Role of luck – eg. Sam mendes who landed his first job running Chichester Theatre because he was good cricket player. Earthquake chess- is combination of hard work and luck. Definition of genius is hours on input, luck and a little inspiration- no more than that! We are all potential geniuses!

Noted that there are many schemes that exist that are filled without proper advertising, or roles created with particular people in mind.

Important to remember that cannot predict the timeline- what you invest now in a relationship may only come back to you some years down the line. Important not to expect immediate returns; worth putting effort in as will be repaid in some form somewhere down the line.

Importance of developing relationships in healthy way- if someone you don’t know, respecting personal space of who you’re approaching, not pushing things. Giving it time: maybe first approach is purely social, irrelevent.

There are plenty of people out there who have been on the rough end of things that are willing to help/advise.

One route to meeting people/making inroads is through internships, however need to be careful, often just means for unpaid labour. Ironically this can be another form of nepotism when some people can afford to work unpaid for the contacts when others can’t.

Remember what a rich tapestry theatre is; how many different tiers, levels, layers and different entry points there are. Don’t have to do things in particular way or via particular route. Many points of access, contact; many ways of finding our way and building success. We are, after all, creators!