I have to confess to being 'old school.' My background is fairly typical of someone coming out of drama school in the early 80's. My first acting jobs involved belting up and down motorways in Transit vans with rickety sets in the back that didn't fit in any of the venues and stupid distances between each evnue, three shows a day.
Then I worked as an Acting Assistant Stage Manager ("Acting ASM") for a large tour - and this was a great way for young actors to get their coveted Equity Card. But it also meant loading and unloading sets (again), sweeping stages, buying props etc etc.
Annette's background is almost identical (with an added German element...)
All of this did a number of positive things for the (young then, old school now) actor, I believe.
Firstly, it makes you appreciate (and be grateful for) the work of everyone in the company - see previous blog Mind you P's and Q's.
Scecondly, it embeds a commitment to doing what needs to be done to get the show on. A great example of this was during our recent production of 'GONE' at the Maltings Arts Theatre. Directors Lisa & Dawn spent days in the theatre building set and setting tech and then three nights in a row past 2am in the morning rethinking, resetting and enhancing various elements to support the young cast. No moaning, no question, it needed to be done so it got done. And very few people knew about it. The show was brilliant by the way...
Modern drama school students have a much more cushy life and (sadly) are amazingly cossetted by brilliant tech, huge stage management support and mindblowing production values. So when they emerge blinking and squinting into the harsh light of the real world, it can be a terrible shock!
So if you really want to work in the theatre and are thinking of applying to drama school, I'd strongly recommend having a go at every role you can beforehand- acting. production, backstage, tech. It gives you such a better understandsing of the ways in which things get done and these are lessons you never forget. Volunteer at your local company - you'll be welcomed with open arms!
And the picture is the gauze for The Boy Preference draped across our garage for painting on a cold February day in 2015 - it needed to be done!