Have you ever heard yourself say “I am writer/actor/producer” and felt a little like a fraud? That the person you’re talking to will think your ‘title’ is simply aspiration, not reality? Because when do these titles really apply? Do they come with success and money? Is it just the time you spend being it? Or is it simply whoever you recognise yourself to be?
There is an ever-growing community of creatives, as this website proves, and we are nearly all able to label ourselves, putting into print who, theatrically, we are.You only have to scan Ideas Tap to see that there are hundreds of designer/directors/writers under 26 in London alone. But where did everyone get these titles from?
In a world where the Internet gives a voice to the masses, many of us are using it as a platform to declare who we are. Facebook and Twitter have given people the opportunity to create an almost paparazzi-style insight into their lives. The average person no longer needs to be anonymous: photos and tweets about how fantastic their life is can change other’s perspectives of them, giving them the lifestyle and reputation they desire, albeit only online.
I have started thinking that this may be happening to our careers too, particularly creative ones. One trainee producing application asked for a link to your website as if this was a given. Am I supposed to have dedicated a website to my producing when I am only just starting out, especially when I’m clearly hoping to learn?
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not an attack on all you young creatives who are directors etc., and happy to call yourselves that and to share your portfolio online. Resources such as websites allow future collaborators to access your work and it demonstrates your commitment and professionalism.
And I am, of course, all for websites that support the arts; I for one have benefited from their presence. But when it comes to stating who I am, I still get a little, well, apprehensive. I would like to recognise myself as a producer and writer in training, as I am currently producing two projects and writing my show and blog. But the reality is that none of these things are paid, my salary comes from my main job as Arts Administrator. Could I just leave this out, or perhaps combine the two into Assistant Producer and Arts Administrator? Do I just take the plunge and adopt a new title?
It’s just that for me most theatrical and arts titles seem more then job titles, they tend to represent a way of thinking and a level of creativity that is not represented in other jobs. And for the most part they signify a hell of a lot of hard work. Last week I started working as a producer (I said it!) on a new show created by 18-25 year olds. Through this, we are working with a really great playwright, who although only 27 has achieved some great things. But it was him who said he always felt sheepish about labelling himself a writer, despite it being completely true. Perhaps it’s because you can’t really go much higher then a writer or an actor or a producer, except by putting ‘senior’ or ‘executive’ on the front. But the reality is the job is always the same. You write or you act or you produce, it’s just the title doesn’t really lend itself towards modesty. By saying I am a producer I therefore share the title with Kate McGrath and Sonia Friedman – and I am still crawling compared to them.
However, I mustn’t forget that this is the world of showbusiness. You have to think big to make it, and the only way to do this is to talk big too. Do we really need a system of title hierarchy to create great theatre? I think not. So, no matter how many plays you have written you should stand up and say you’re a writer (or whatever else you want to be) because only when you’ve convinced yourself will others follow. And let’s not forget Shakespeare’s wise words, really “what’s in a name?”
Image by Parvin