Fragile Systems

I suppose I have been coming to this blog with the intention of shining some light on the hardships that actors go through.

The point of the agent story was tell how those people in power over us can act in anyway they please and severely affect our lives whilst actors must just stay silent and always be amenable, always be compliant. I spoke about the rehearsal room experience as a way to make you see how being valued as an artist is important to actors, and how rarely we are thought of in this way. That we are often handled with disrespect by directors. I tried to express caution for theatres opening because the system of patronage is fragile at best and it’s a business that relies on a healthy audience to survive. I don’t want theatres to be closed if an epicentre of Coronavirus cases is linked to them – to be used as a scapegoat by this pathetic, snivelling government. I also don’t want someone to ever say to me that I shouldn’t question an issue, that I have no right to, and that I should just shut up and celebrate. Please, never dictate how I should feel about something.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

I also come to these blogs because I feel a severe frustration with these systems, frustrations that have been building for the last 23 years of my strange acting career.

I read an article today about the severely strict lockdown in the city of Melbourne and the state of Victoria in Australia. I have a friend there and I reached out to her. She said it was very very hard and that she is still avoiding the shops at the moment because people drunk on their new freedom are queueing around the block to shop. In the article there were all the usual statistics of how the economy has collapsed and dire warnings of years of recovery. While we were talking it suddenly struck me. IF THESE SYSTEMS THAT WE HAVE SET UP ARE SO FRAGILE AND IF THEY CONSTANTLY FAIL PEOPLE WHY ARE WE NOT LOOKING FOR BETTER, STRONGER, NEWER SYSTEMS TO TAKE THEIR PLACE?

Yesterday I had a talk with a friend in my home country and we were talking about this very point. And over the last couple of years of my life, before we even knew what Covid-19 was, I was already starting to ask these questions of my own industry.

We take for granted that the way things are now are the ways things have always been. And I have started to question this. I think this is some of the point of this blog. I was becoming so very tired of watching really talented actors fall through the cracks that the entertainment system have put in place. The WASTE of talent was starting to gnaw at me. For now, we have a system that somehow allows for this wastage. We know that only 2% of actors are constantly working. The 98% constantly struggling. And this is normal?

Then you have the gatekeepers who decide who gets used. Decide when you will be creative and when you won’t. And sometimes on the shallowest basis like weight, baldness, height let alone any talent you might possess. The gatekeepers usually not having the time or inclination to search for new talent, turns to the faces they know and the faces we see again and again on TV, in theatre shows. Then let’s talk about the system of theatre ticket pricing. No matter how much I wanted to go to the theatre I often couldn’t afford ticket prices especially on the West End, effectively cutting me off from my own industry and cutting me off from learning and observing my fellow colleagues.

I have been asking for years if there is a better way, a better formulated system that takes care of talent rather than wastes it. That allows for actor’s engagement on their often small, minimum-wage salaries. A few idea are starting to form but it’s not this system. It can’t be. Perhaps I will come to talk of these ideas here.

These fragile systems. There is a human need to hold on to what we know. But what if we are missing the point. ARE THEY WORTH HOLDING ONTO? I mean, an invisible agent, something we cannot see without the aid of a microscope, has decimated systems and failed billions of people that rely on these fragile systems.

Why are we so eager to return to normal?

What the hell is normal?

I ask that of the world and my own industry.