Convener(s): Annie Fitzmaurice

Participants: Lauren, Sophie, Louise, Dee Evans, Paul Hunter - others please add your names…………

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

We opened the discussion by talking about the history of groups of actors led by the actor manager and the current situation where actors are sometimes on the periphery of a company or producing theatre…..the last to be hired and the least to be considered.

Points made….

Actors running or who have run buildings…..including Mark Rylance…. 

While acting/performing rehearsing how can you do anything else? 

Taking on the responsibility of running a building stops you being an actor

Examples of running a building include a chief executive plus an artistic producer (who was an actor) – this didn’t work in this instance 

Examples of actors running companies included two actors and a director setting up a company and touring theatres, managing the “other” jobs between them until they had a producer, but they still ran the company and successful combined both roles by having a trusted team to hand over responsibility to others.

One participant explained that she had stopped being an actor because she was frustrated with working in badly run theatres and had now returned to theatre to run a building.

Suspicion of artistic directors running buildings for egotistical reasons and surrounding themselves with non-threatening associates.

We talked about training at certain drama schools (Lamda!) where there was a stigma about actors creating their own work – as though the only reason to do this was lack of commercial success!

The reverse attitude at Le Coq – why are you jobbing in a Shakespeare tour instead of making your own work! 

We discussed whether there is greater egalitarianism in a company set up by actors or whether the important thing is to have an appropriate leader.

Training – teachers who value and encourage creativity – actors making their own work and setting up companies and drama schools who focus on the actor for hire model.  Simon McBurney visiting Lamda to talk about work – status of his company rather than understanding and valuing the work he does.

An actor could suffer running a building or a company, if the infrastructure didn’t allow the actors to hand over responsibilities during creative work.

Starting a small company involves loads of responsibilities – doing all the jobs, (but being clear when in each role), there is more of an investment in the work – being multi faceted can be part of sustainability. 

Should everyone have performed in front of an audience prior to running a building, so that they truly know that edge of it?

Personality is crucial to the success of running a building whether or not that is an actor - Mark Rylance did an extraordinary job.

In Romania the Minister or Culture is an actor. 

In Helsinki an actor is the artistic director of the national theatre.

Could this happen in this country?

Is the training process responsibility for the lack of actors running buildings?

Or is it the expectation?

Or why not a designer, lighting designer etc?

Does the infrastructure of a building affect how work can be made there?  Making outdoor performance necessitates the involvement of the designer from an early stage  (issues including health and safety affect this work).  This is no different to making truly collaborative work in a building.

Who runs buildings?

Directors who run buildings (well) are not necessarily the best directors.   Many directors are put off running buildings because they may become limited creatively.

Running a company is very different to running a building.  A company working collaboratively with a building can be a good model.  It’s a different skill to run a building – and it can compromise creative work.

Relationships between artists and buildings can be particularly productive/important.

Important factors are personality, respect and freedom with the relationship to genuinely collaborate. 

It’s possible to be trapped by running a building.