Becoming An Actor: Why bother training?Date: 17 February 2012
But, are we excited to see Fry play Malvolio because there's anticipation he'll be good at it, or because he's Stephen Fry the public figure? Personally I've no doubt that Fry's talents will extend to brilliance in the role, but he's not a trained actor and there are plenty of trained actors out there who could probably do it just as well… but might not get as many bums on seats.
It's a scary prospect to think, as I graduate in July after three years of intensive and expensive training, that I might lose out on jobs not through inability (which I could understand) but because my name won't sell tickets. The role of the actor, it seems, is being stretched from acting to a tool of advertising – and in some cases the latter is more important than the former.
The problem is cyclical. Audiences get excited about seeing people they know on stage, so more ‘names' get cast, which audiences get excited about going to see. But then, as the old saying goes, “give the public what it wants” – if they want to see Anne Widdecombe play “widdy-in-waiting”, let them pay for it.
The consequence of it all is that decent, hard working, and well trained actors have to find other ways of supporting themselves because an already saturated industry is being dominated by, not necessarily the best, but the most well known.
Maybe it's a good thing? Maybe after seeing Fry people will be persuaded to try King John at the RSC? Either way, I've already booked my ticket because, oh my God, it's Stephen Fry!