I’m an actor with Spotlites and this is a Stereotypical blog! At the risk of sounding overly preachy, we put a lot of faith into stereotyping. I realised this recently in relation to the performing arts as a profession.
I was getting my eyes tested at the opticians and the assistant asked me for my occupation, to which I replied “actor”. I then went onto explain that I’ve been getting headaches from looking at a screen for most of the working day. This confused the assistant: “Well, if you’re an actor, why are you sitting at a screen all day?” I can already hear the beginnings of an accusatory voice in the back of my head saying, “Actors don’t work at computers, clearly you’re not a real actor!” But I thought on it and then the question occurred to me: what does the assistant think that I do all day?
So I fell onto the aforementioned stereotype of what I might expect an actor to do (if I weren’t an actor!): there’d be partying, interviews galore, scandals, dealing with fans, fashion, saying the word “dah-ling” a lot, swanning into auditions, crazy demands, artistic temperaments, being on TV in X-factor, on Strictly, Britains Got Talent, and in adverts like Dior, Old Spice, or Linx, constantly living life like it were a play, and incredible amounts of glory and admiration.
Is that what people think when they learn what I do? With the exception of being stuck in some alternate reality most of the time, most of the above is false – at least in my case. I spend my days doing a lot of acting, granted, much more acting than most. I also spend my days publicising, administrating, making phone calls (not the glamorous kind), sending emails, teaching, cleaning, sweeping, emptying bins, moving scenery and props… everything that actually makes a theatre work.
Are people therefore disappointed when they see me? If the stereotype is to be believed, surely I’m a let down. Is this what the assistant thought when I walked in looking like something the cat found and claimed to be an “actor”? Or is it just that we performing arts people aren’t what the populace think? At Spotlites may we be practically ordinary?
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