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Exclusive Offer: Save 25% on Susan Elkin’s new book So You Want To Work In Theatre?

Posted on 20 March 2013 by A Younger Theatre

The truth is that there are many more ways of working in theatre off-stage than on it – Susan Elkin

susan elkinDecided you want to work in theatre? Don’t know where to start? There are so many careers in theatre and there are many different ways to break into the industry, so it can be hard to know where to get good advice. Thankfully, Susan Elkin’s new book So You Want to Work In Theatre? (published by Nick Hern Books) does all the ground work for you, compiling lots of information about jobs in theatre and presenting you with an essential guide to the industry.

We think this is definitely a book that every A Younger Theatre reader needs on their shelf, which is why we have decided to give you a great offer: purchase the book for just £7.49 (a 25% discount!).


Claim the offer
To get your copy for £7.49 (25% discount) with free UK postage and packing, go to the publisher’s website and use the promotional code “YOUNGER THEATRE OFFER” at the checkout. Offer valid until 31 July 2013 on website orders only

To learn a bit more about the book, why not read our guest blog with author Susan Elkin before purchasing?

We are also pleased to be running a competition to give away three copies of So You Want To Work In Theatre?, enter here.

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Competition: Win a copy of So You Want To Work in Theatre? by Susan Elkin

Posted on 15 March 2013 by A Younger Theatre

If you’ve realised that you want to work in theatre but you just don’t know where to start then Susan Elkin (Education and Training Editor for The Stage) has just written the perfect book for you…So You Want To Work In Theatre? There are loads of jobs in the industry and we think this book can help you to understand what is available behind-the-scenes, rather than just in front it, which is why we have teamed up with the publishers to give you the chance to win a copy! We have THREE wonderful copies to give away so read the blurb below for some more information about the book and then scroll down to enter.

susan elkin

So You Want To Work in Theatre?
by Susan Elkin
An essential guide for young people who want to work in the theatre
£9.99, Nick Hern Books

Many young people are eager to experience the excitement and allure of working in theatre, but often this only goes as far as imagining themselves as actors, on stage in front of an audience every night. In reality, there are more jobs off the stage than on it. They can be every bit as rewarding as acting – and certainly more secure because there are invariably fewer people competing for each one.

So You Want To Work In Theatre? is an essential, no-nonsense guide for young people who want to work in theatre – and for their parents, teachers and careers advisers.

Using her expertise as Education and Training Editor for The Stage, Susan Elkin encourages aspiring theatre-makers and workers to look beyond acting to some of the other behind-the-scenes options available: playwriting, directing, producing, designing, stage management, administration, publicity, front-of-house, stage door…

And, for those who really must, the book does cover how to get into acting too.

To learn a bit more about the book, why not read our guest blog with author Susan Elkin?

Enter the competition
Fill in the form below and submit it by 5.00pm on Monday 25 March. Winners will be contacted via e-mail by Wednesday 27 March.

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By entering the competition you agree to have your email added to the A Younger Theatre E-Newsletter. AYT never passes your details onto other third parties – we keep them safe!

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Filskit Theatre: The actor – a disposable commodity?

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Filskit Theatre


“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?, ‘ I say, ‘Your salary’.”
– Alfred Hitchcock

Would a technician do a large job for nothing? Would a plumber not charge you? Would a lawyer kindly forget to send you a bill? Probably not. For these are deemed to be ‘skilled professionals.’ Yet time and time again actors (and not just the young, sprightly ones) are offering their services for free or for the bare minimum wage.
For those of you who chose to take the university or drama school route, you will be the proud owner of that official piece of paper that declares you have a degree in your chosen subject. Does that not imply that you are skilled?

The competitive nature of the acting profession has made it an oversubscribed market where continuous waves of new drama graduates join the battle. The ferocity of the competition means that sometimes the sector will take advantage. This unfortunately can stem from as early as the initial drama school auditions. We’ve heard many tales of shocking auditions (and have a few scars of our own) – a familiar story is the scenario where you pay £30 for the privilege of being eyeballed by a panel for all of 25 seconds. This already sets up a feeling that the students should be honoured to apply let alone dream of winning a place. This for many can be a tough financial sting, particularly if applying to several schools. This places these establishments on even higher pedestals as hundreds of hopefuls grapple for limited places at the schools. Already we have a fierce battle on our hands.

Then once you have completed your degree, you enter the big bad world. Outside the drama school bubble, jobs are inevitably thin on the ground. Again, performers are expected to offer their services for free or for the promise of a profit share which is likely to equate to double figures, for hours and hours of hard work and dedication. It doesn’t make the performer feel like a professional, as they are clearly not being treated as such.

We are a small company with very little money. We put in many hours for free, as we see it as investment in the future of the company and ourselves. We hold the belief that one day we will be able to work full time, for Filskit. This is the aim, and it should, eventually, be an achievable one. However, when we work with others, wherever possible, we make it a priority to pay them. It stands as a mark of respect to those we work with, whose skills we require, just as we need to pay the lighting technician, the printing company for our posters and flyers, and all the others who are needed to make things happen.

We have to be honest that we are not always able to pay for rehearsal periods, unless we have supported funding, and as a result we minimise our cast numbers and intensify our rehearsal periods to help make this a minimal encumbrance to everyone involved.

Groups like Equity and ITC draw out clear guidelines for Equity minimum payment, whilst Arts Council England exists to support artists and make sure they get paid for their work. So why is there still such expectancy to work for free?

We were prompted to delve into this subject after reading an anonymous article on Ideas Tap. The contributor admits they have “a company of over 30 members, who work free of charge because they share our passion”. This may appear dedicated but at the end of the day “passion” doesn’t pay the bills. It is an unsustainable way of working and ultimately limits growth. We were guilty of performing for free when we first formed as we felt honoured just to be performing. But there comes a point where you have to see the value in what you are doing, or who else will? Maybe it is our responsibility as a young company and members of the theatre community to promote payment for services rendered, and offer performers the professional status they deserve.

Image: Little known JOBS PROGRAM provides plenty of work for everyone

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre

Filskit Theatre are an all-female ensemble with a passion for micro-projection. The company, Sarah Gee, Katy Costigan and Victoria Dyson, have been making work together since 2008. As graduates of the European Theatre Arts course at Rose Bruford they were brought together by their shared love of projection and cake.

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Devil’s Advocate: Nepotism

Posted on 14 February 2013 by Emma Jane Denly

Devil's Advocate 1

Emma Jane Denly begins a brand new monthly blog Devil’s Advocate, a regular provocation about topical or controversial issues.

This month she plays devil’s advocate with the topic of nepotism, with a theatre professional who wishes to remain anonymous.

EJD: Nepotism has always been one of those issues that theatrical types just don’t want to tackle. The injustice of one person being promoted above other candidates due to a helping hand – particularly when the benefited individual doesn’t appear to be as talented as or even vaguely interested in the job at stake – is a testy subject. If you and I, similarly placed in a competitive and over-subscribed industry, were ever to be offered a break by a friend or relative, we would be morally challenged. Conversely, if this never happens and we declaim “THAT’S NOT FAIR”, our statement could be professionally disadvantageous: the likelihood of offending a prospective employer, in whatever field, is high, as nepotism is so rife.

Is there more than one type of nepotism – the fair type and the unfair type, or are there some cases where being “helped along” is acceptable? Finally, is nepotism in all its manifestations empirically bad? Can we comfortably holler that we are “holier than thou”?

Anon: There’s a murky distinction between nepotism and advocacy that makes this issue very complicated. Nepotism is the advancement of someone related to you, whereas advocacy is, in theory, meritocratic. Fair or unfair nepotism? The employment of anyone in any job who doesn’t merit the position should be seen as unfair. It fundamentally is, IF we want to believe that those who ‘get their foot in the door’ of professional theatre deserve it. However, we don’t seem especially committed to this view of our industry. This is usually because most of the people in the industry, including myself, can point to a time when they were given an opportunity they don’t feel they deserved. All this gives us a wonderful freedom; if we’re all in the gutter together then no one can call ‘holier than thou’.

EJD: So you’re saying we all need to get out of this “gutter” of friendly recommendation and the occasional leg-up… And where does this revolution start? At what point do you say, no, I don’t want that job at, say, the Globe because I only got my foot into the interview room because a friend of mine propped the door open? You’re already having to write under “anonymous” because of what you call the non-meritocratic tendencies of the industry – somewhat playing into the system itself – so I’m inclined to say that you must agree that some parts of it are useful or you’d come out and defy it directly.

In your dream world, then, if there were to be a solution, what sort of procedures would you count as acceptable?

Anon: I’m writing anonymously to preserve the principle of what I’m trying to say. I don’t want my entire argument wiped away when someone says, “ah, but you were given such and such an opportunity”. My career has been aided and advocated by several people. I’d like to say it was all down to my talent (and it is true that I’m not related to those advocates) but I admit the truth is it’s probably 50% luck.

The principle is: it shouldn’t be up to us. We have neither the voice, influence or money to reform the system from where we are. The best we can do is to say that when we get to the top of the ladder we’ll treat those below us better – but of course at that point the catch 22 is already in effect; we’ve reaped the rewards before pointing out our unethical behaviour along the way.

What procedures would I like to see put in place? Cover letter, CV, interview. The Young Vic does this and they have the best training directors – a peculiar correlation? I think not.

EJD: So, institutions like the Young Vic that have the money and the resources to interview and sort the presumably massive quantity of applications for their directors’ scheme are behaving correctly, and you’re saying that anyone with the same facilities available should do the same? OK.

What about employers who can offer similarly wonderful opportunities, exposure or projects who don’t have the time or money? Examples of that kind of altruistic procedure amongst theatre practitioners working at theatres with less funding, or even working out of their living rooms, are few and far between. I don’t believe many unpaid directors would sit through even 60 auditions after posting an open casting call – and we both know that applications would be ten times this – if they knew they could ask one of their friends to take the role. What you are proposing as a solution to nepotism is limited to very few places, and therefore I don’t think your proposed revolution will ever seed itself.

Anon: Again we’re blurring the line between recommendation and nepotism.  If a director has an actor/actress they’ve worked with previously who is perfect for the part, then it’s a simple hiring choice. It’s when someone is given a similar opportunity because their father/mother/uncle/aunt/godfather etc. is involved that the situation becomes unfair. I accept it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between these, but we must at least try.

Budgetary requirements are so small as to be irrelevant. We are not talking about thousands being spent for these processes to go in place. It’s not an insurmountable task even for small theatres; theatres already doing so include the New Diorama, The Gate and The Finborough.

My point is this: we are holding ourselves to a depressingly low standard. Personal relationships are not always malevolent forces of corruption. Advocacy of talented youngsters can ensure that the right people get the right opportunity at the right time. However, our commitment to fair and honest application procedures as a mandatory requirement is flimsy at best. This is doing the industry damage – it breeds insular artistic vision as well as debasing our belief in our own talent.

EJD: Perhaps it is a case of cornerstone institutions leading by example. I don’t think that this excuses us, however, from any behaviour that could be dubbed nepotistic – and this is defined differently by different people. Therefore you, and I, and anyone else wanting this increased vigilance will have to act accordingly. The phrase “squeaky-clean” comes to mind. In the public forum, I’m sure that there are some who think that the line between nepotism and simply choosing a friend for a task is not as clean-cut as you perceive it.

What are your thoughts on nepotism? Do you have any thoughts on the definition of the issue, and are there any cases where nepotism is acceptable?

Image: Stage Door sign

Emma Jane Denly

Emma Jane Denly

I'm a freelance writer, blogger and actress. I've been writing about theatre for the last three years and am interested what it can do, and how it does it. I've just moved to London and can be found moaning about Oyster cards and tripping over paving stones that definitely weren't there before whenever I'm not in a theatre.

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