NON STUDENTS ACTORS UNITE! – How can a drama school reject find work as a performer?


Convener(s): Gabrielle B. 

Participants: Gabrielle B, Francesca Lisette, Jonny Liron, Aliki Chapple, Shakera Louise Ahad, Dan Copeland, Chris Goode, Mandy Fenton.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

We discussed the possibility of a performer making work on their own – ie. Using funding etc as a starting point. It is hard to be a self-starter and part of the problem of being rejected by the institutions which you are trying to be accepted by is the problem of losing hope. Would self-starting and its related difficulties cause you to lose even more hope?

People have often networked extensively at university or drama school and have a ready made set of people to call on for opportunities and advice. Where do the rejects find their contacts?

We concluded that it might be useful to approach artists whose work you admire and use that as a starting point for joining or creating a community.

Some useful tools: A copy of the book ‘Contacts’.

                              A space in ‘Spotlight’ – could be used in lieu of an agent

                              A page on Casting Call Pro – a good networking tool

Workshops are another option. They can be expensive ones but The Actors’ Centre have some subsidised courses. The Actors Temple may also be good.

Arts Jobs and Arts Admin E-Digest might be good ways of using mailing lists to be kept in the loop and to discover new opportunities without being in the ‘right circles’.

We also discussed the concept of being an actor-manager who is auto-didactic and has control over their own production. Ie. ‘Derek Jacobi’s King Lear’ is a production of the play which is entirely Jacobi’s interpretation of the play rather than having had input by a director or producer who has imposed their own vision of it. Why isn’t an actor’s instinct and vision valued as much as that of a director? Actors have responses to scripts as well! Why do we have to bow to a director’s chosen rationale of a production?

We discussed the value of training and whether it is about developing someone artistically or whether it is one massive leg-up in the industry based on your attractiveness/your relevance to industry trends/whether you can afford the tuition fees. It’s impossible to reach a conclusion because we can’t determine whether trained actors were good because they had trained or because they were just good. Can you determine your own ‘goodness’ without the training of a respected drama school? I think you can but without that validation you may still find it difficult to be viewed as ‘good’. Or to be viewed in the same light as those who have had the validation of being trained.


Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed, I feet less alone and a lot more informed.