Professional versus Amateur in performance

I hear time and time again of performances being “very professional” or to a “professional standard”, but what does this actually mean?

Let us explore the difference between Amateur and Professional theatre, to see if there is a difference.

Professional theatre is theatre made by professionals, it’s what it describes. A professional is someone who gains remuneration for their labours. Eg they get paid.
What it does not describe is whether the performance was any good or not, did it in fact engage the audience? was it a well crafted script? did the lighting enhance the story or emotion of the piece? did the performance take us on a journey?

Amateur theatre is theatre made by amateurs, this means the people who created the piece have not being paid. Once again it does not describe the quality of the performance.

In more recent times many amateurs employ professional directors, professional lighting chaps and professional sound people – they pay them to do their job. It still does not describe if their contribution to the piece was any good.

So the only difference between amateur and professional is money, or is it people’s perceptions. Mainly the perceptions of the Amateur world I believe. From my experience it seems they feel that they can only validate themselves and their work if they stand it next to a show that is professional.

I get quite annoyed when people say their work is “very professional” as a selling point of their show.

I say rubbish – I feel that the description of the remuneration of the cast has nothing to do with the enjoyment of the piece.

I have never thought I would get an amateur accountant to do my self assessment tax return, I would not consider the professionalism of a gardener.

I would though expect to get a good use out of a mobile phone I bought, regardless of the pay of the person making it.

Amateur theatre is a hobby for many many people, its a great hobby. But why degenerate their hours of graft with a label of amateur.

I don’t review books for a living, so does that mean I am an amateur book reader, does my opinion of the book not count, should I in fact not read as I am not paid to do so? Am I rubbish as a reader? If JK Rowling read a book would I have enjoyed it better, surely not as I haven’t read it.

If my house burnt down would I feel bitter if the fire engine that arrived was crewed by people not paid, holly molly I just want the fire put out!

Is it about the experience / skill of the performer – yes, but some Amateurs have performed hundreds of plays for years whilst a newly graduating professional actor may have only performed in their last year of drama college 3 plays if they were lucky.

What if Ian Mckellen (Gandalf) decided he was going to do a film for free, as it was for a charity – would he then be labelled as an amateur, would you think his performance was worse? Should the film posters say “An amateur performance ….”

Let’s lose the amateur label and instead just enjoy the performance. Let’s just make the piece better and enjoy it!

Is this blog rubbish or good? Am I paid to write it or not – you don’t know, as I haven’t told you if I am being paid to write this – does it cloud your perception of this blog if I am an amateur of professional blogger?

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