#TheatreMaker vs Jobbing #actor. Who are they?

Have you sat yourself down recently and taken stock? I know it’s only February and while most of us take stock at the end of the year, but I’ve been thinking about taking stock of the larger picture for some time. 2014 was a marvellously busy and diverse year I couldn’t have asked for better (well, I could, as any actor will tell you, things could always be better) – I’ve had several projects completed but several that I want to take up again and one I want to start. Now that I’m clear about that, it’s time to look at things with a little distance.

I’ve been inspired by Susan Mumford’s post about ‘Are You Still In Love With What You Do?’ to think about this. A chance conversation with Emma Stirling, a director friend, on Sunday night also compounded that I am in this place where it could go either way. Rachel Briscoe, from FanShen, asked me in 2013, when I was auditioning for a role in Cheese “So I know you as an artist (Ovalhouse where she’s also a Co-Director of theatre part funded ‘Unbroken LIne in 2012) but you’re also a LAMDA actor, how do you reconcile that?”. When I started at LAMDA the two things weren’t so disparate, in my head. But more recently I’ve realised that the industry views them very differently.

Do any of you theatremakers-cum-jobbing actors have the same feeling?

That in your head you’re doing the same thing as acting? I was very lucky in that my then new agent had the patience to wait until I had got the gig that would allow me to make my own work. When the audition for ‘Cucumber’ came along and when I had landed it, it felt like the stars were aligned. It did allow me to not only do high-profile television, but also a major painting project for Chrissie Hynde and co-write/produce/perform in a 2-hander at Ovalhouse.

With ‘Cucumber’ coming out this year I am hoping to get more work off the back of it to increase my profile but I suspect I need to strike while the iron is hot. Meanwhile ‘Unbroken Line’ needs some attention and ‘Cagebird Sings’ desperately needs to get written before I can even start the workshop process with Desmond O’Connor.

Perhaps I’m just daunted by the size of the tasks and now that my tenure as Associate Artist at Ovalhouse is complete, it feels scary to go out there alone. Advice to other people I’d give is ‘one small task at a time’, write it bit by bit, like I did with ‘Unbroken Line’; combined with spurts of workshopping. Maybe another Authentic Artist workshop is on the cards. It just feels so much.

I feel that there are very few actor/theatremaker/artists out there who make their own work from the ground up. Some have set up their own companies but this feels slightly different to setting up a theatre company and doing established texts. It feels very privileged to have done acting and theatremaking. But the hunger is to do more. Of both. I’m not sure if I’m trail-blazing, exactly, there must be others that produce their own theatre work? There must be others out there, right? If you know any please let me know!

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6 thoughts on “#TheatreMaker vs Jobbing #actor. Who are they?

      • Mairi Campbell, Joanna Rosenfeld, Lizzie Crarer and Tara Jaffar. Mairi has Creative Scotland funding for a new solo show, Joanna has just been accepted onto The Works in Brighton for a sharing of work in development in early March, Lizzie had some R&D £ from ACE and is now continuing to develop a project about WW1 journalist Dorothy Lawrence that she will write and direct, and Tara is embarking on a new solo exploration of her British Iraqi identity. Ground up!

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