Songs for the Struggling Artist

What I wish American Theatre would learn from the Brits (#9)

No assholes allowed.

After working on a show at the Arcola Theatre in the summer of 2006, I decided I was going to move to London when I finished grad school. My friend Yvonne (who was in that show) asked me why. I gave her a lot of reasons based on the production we worked on together. Everything I said, she’d say “Well, that was really just that show.” or “That’s not really the case.”
For example, I was convinced that English Theatre was really international and inclusive. Yvonne dismissed this by saying that our production was pretty unusual in that way.
“Ok, ok.” I said and tried a few other ideas I had about the British theatre.Then I said, “And. . . I know you’re going to say that this isn’t true and that it was just this production but it feels like nobody is really an asshole there. People just seemed to be essentially nice when dealing with each other most of the time. But I know you’re going to say that was just our show. . .”
“Oh – well – that’s true actually.”
“Yeah, if you’re an asshole, you don’t work. It’s just that simple.
“It feels like it’s just the opposite in the American Theatre.”
“I’ll tell you. I went to Drama school with this actor who was extraordinary. He was amazing in our King Lear but he doesn’t work. And he won’t. Because he’s a world class asshole.”
(She’s a good code-switcher. She said “ass” instead of “arse” for me.)
Can you imagine a world wherein, as an artist, you didn’t wonder if you might be a bit farther along in your career if you were a bigger asshole?
I’ve been in such a world and everyday I’m trying to recreate it. I hereby declare my theatre an asshole free zone.


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