I have one word for you: ‘Luvvie’.
Here the crowd can be seen to visibly ripple and disperse into two camps. It’s a phenomenon that can only be described as the Marmite effect that the formation of the said word, in the mouths of thespians Britain-wide, produces. Formidable actor, David Suchet, who has recently claimed that the tag ‘luvvie’ is the ‘worst thing that ever happened’ in acting history, can here be seen to run to the fridge and wash his mouth out with rancid milk. You get the picture.
In order to fully evaluate this term, we must first consider its connotations. ‘Luvvie’ is chiefly applicable to British acting subjects; implies a certain degree of campness; suggests an exclusive ‘club’ of predominantly stage actors, peppered with the odd writer/director etc; brings forth images of pretentious green room soirées, buzzing with a unison RP accent and the odd ‘To be or not to be…’ Ok, so I’m not exactly looking into this scientifically, I admit.
We shall now move on, in a game of word association, to people automatically recognisable by the term; David Suchet (as above), Sir Ian McKellan, Sir Patrick Stewart, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Brannagh, Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, Ian Holt, Imogen Stubbs; to name but a few. Not bad considering the main complaint about the term ‘luvvie’ is it’s derogatory nature – that’s a British institution for you right there! I wouldn’t mind changing my name to Dame Luvvie McLuvvie if only to be included in that list. Considering the list of British greats that I managed to summon up on the keypad before the word even sprang from my lips, we could even go as far to say that ‘luvvie’ is affectionate – a term of endearment if you will. Other professions have far worse by way of nicknames.
Now, silly old Sir Trevor Nunn once said in an impassioned state of dramatic hyperbole, that the term itself was the theatrical equivalent of racism. Well, here’s another theatrically offensive tag for you: ‘Drama Queen’. Let us not get carried away Trevor, I love you, but what an utterly ridiculous comparison. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy! Such an inane comment is a gift in the hand of seasoned luvvie-loathers.
To be an actor, director, writer – the whole host – is a wonderfully generous and life-affirming vocation. And anyone would only have to spend a week in intensive rehearsal to realise that we are no strangers to hard graft.
But we are no brain surgeons.
Unfortunately, theatre is not considered a vital function, which goes some way towards explaining why theatre, and art generally, are first to feel the budget cuts. Rightly or wrongly, art is not a necessity. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that theatre saves as much as faith heals but it will be very hard to convince people otherwise if a select few insist on bemoaning a tag that, whilst a little irritating, is nothing more than a gentle poke in the ribs.