A recent graduate recently asked my advice on whether to take a job they had been offered. To my horror her message to me began “Hiya Babe” which I found somewhat alarming!!! She clearly doesn’t know my dislike for abbreviations – I once worked with a director who called everyone “Lovely” the whole time – it drove me to despair but I digress!!! She went on to explain how she wasn’t sure if she should take this West End show as it didn’t really appeal. My jaw was on the floor!!!! I don’t think I ever turned down a job in my 14 years of performing. I was always utterly grateful and humbled that anyone should want me in their show.
This got me to thinking to how it was when I graduated. There was still the strict rule of not being allowed to audition yet alone take a West End show until you had your hours on your equity card. Thus by the time you had finally gained your full Equity card by doing summer season, panto, clubs etc you had earned your right and more importantly your knowledge to then audition and hopefully get a West End show. My first few jobs were hugely informing to a naive dancer. I was surrounded by seasoned professionals who were all great teachers and passed on their knowledge to us recent graduates. I think the business should rethink this process. As harsh as it may sound I think you should earn your place in a West End show. By the time I made my London debut in Mack & Mabel at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1995 I was ready for the challenging experience ahead. Informed from my previous years of learning the every slippery ropes of show business.
My advice to this girl was to accept it and use your time to keep learning, to not nearly sit in a long running show but to continue taking classes and to keep growing as a performer.
My other spot of advice was to question the opener of “Hiya Babe” in her message but one can’t ask for too much – init m8!!!!!