The Actors Centre

Vocation Vs Vanity

1 May 2015

The arts' internal struggle

The Actors Centre played host to Women Centre Stage Festival by Sphinx Theatre Company and produced by our wonderful Tristan Bates Producers in March. Sphinx have been a vanguard for developing roles for women in theatre since the 1970’s; nurturing talent and enabling venues, programmes and artists to create more leading roles for women. Sphinx were not only running a festival, but are also co-curators of this season’s workshop programme. As Marketing and Communications Manager at the Actors Centre and for general interest, and as a woman (I guess), I went along to both of the panel debates that were taking place on the day of the festival.

There was a plethora of opinion and heated debate at both discussions; some of which I agreed with and some I did not, however, there was something that stuck with me.

We covered UK training techniques and facilities for actors, directors and writers. We discussed the politicisation of teaching theatre in our schools (the infiltration of education policy that inadvertently pushes drama out); public versus private, where I agree that frankly we should be interested in artists rather than the schools they came from. The lack of bursaries for directors, the lack of support for minority writers, sexism, racism; we covered a lot of the boundaries and walls that used to face the arts and still do – more in some cases and less in others.

Our panel were all notable people from theatre – a writer, a director, a drama school head and so on. These were all people who had to face the issues of lacking support for the arts over the years, and it is their internal struggle that stuck with me. This idea that a career in the arts is all about a tension of two things: vocation Vs vanity. Doing what you have to do and doing what you want (or at least the idea of what you want).

This felt like the tale of any person involved in the arts. Whether you’re an actor, a writer, a producer, or a CEO; we all have an internal battle between our own vainness of what we want to achieve and what we need to do to get the job done (or just to afford the bus ride home).

But this is all absolutely necessary, and should be embraced I think. It’s that little internal struggle that will create such interesting stuff for our stages, with new people taking up the baton to keep the arts afloat.

With debate about the arts still being such a heated subject; I for one, am hopeful for its future. It is people who ask questions and organisations like Sphinx that keep the arts arena an exciting place to be.

Hatty Evans - Marketing and Communications Manager at the Actors Centre