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June 10, 2015

No, not the street-dance group discovered by Simon Cowell. We are talking the number of ethnic minorities and those of different gender and orientation on stage and behind the scenes.

I was, I admit, pretty surprised at “Behind The Beautiful Forevers” at the National Theatre to find that an Indian play had a mostly white, male creative team. By contrast, “Bend It Like Beckham” has a mostly Indian team directing and involved in the creative process – perfect for allowing that production to delve deep into its cultural roots.

What I found harder to understand was the recent calling, by some sections of the theatre community, for ‘greater representation of minorities’ – including actors from less financially well-off backgrounds – in the industry.

Erm… on that I don’t follow the logic. Sorry, I just don’t.

Theatre is an amazingly attractive environment to work in. It is fun, can be lucrative and isn’t sitting around in a grey suit every single day (unless cast as an office worker, of course).

What it is also, is a near 100% meritocracy. If you are any good, you can get a living out of it.

When I started, I knew nobody in the business beyond encountering one lecturer for a term at University, and all the front of house and box office staff I came into contact with visiting shows. Literally years of work later (the first few practically unpaid), I feel, in a small way, a part of the industry now. I’m not unique either – several bloggers and website owners have carved a niche the same way.

And it applies to many folk elsewhere in the industry too.

Simply, if you want it enough and are prepared to do anything to get it, the chances are that something will happen. It may not be exactly what you wish for, but it’ll be close. Plenty of immigrants land on these shores with literally nothing at all – and end up with massive companies through sheer hard work.

Sure, nobody should be allowed to actually place boulders in front of anyone, and it’s nice that folk think boulders should be cleared from the paths of others…

…but if you are in a hyper-competitive world, then isn’t the person you want to hire the one who has looked at the boulder and then scrambled over it using nothing but their own physical strength to do so?


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