From the soapbox
by Kristina Nicoll
For the last 6 weeks, I have not been working as an actress- but rather someone who casts actresses and actors- and I have had my eyes opened wide to the process of finding someone to “fit” a role.. and I want to write the following because I think it needs saying:
Stage actors and actresses are anomalies and jewels – if you have a resume which lists 10 or more theatrical credits in Canadian theatre- you are a national treasure, and you are in a field of a very few. This field is astonishingly smaller than you think. Much smaller.
I know this because I look at Casting Workbook everyday and I receive resumes and headshots… and add to that fact that if you are still active in the theatre after 20 years – YOU ARE A SUCCESS.
I can tell you that I am surprised constantly that resumes are organised with television and film credits first – as if they have more importance than what work you have done on the stage- who decided that?
I can tell you that if you do not celebrate your own accomplishments on the stage – then no one else will either.
I want to know how and why it was decided that holding stage credits up against hollywood credits was interpreted as success.
REALLY? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT?
I think that to be successful as an artist: is to despite all the odds; to keep on keepin on … and furthermore to be successful in this craft is to be the HEART of a human being , foibles, flaws, charms and vulnerabilities all – a believable human being in a vastly different set of circumstances/ genres/ stories.
If you have a theatre resume, be proud, be so proud because despite all the odds and rejections and POVERTY… despite the pressure of the film/television world, YOU HAVE CONTINUED… and if you are a woman over 40, you have infinitely beat the odds-
Yes film is a visual medium and because its run mostly on the whims of adolescents in North America there is a pressure to look a certain way… but for real artists and grown ups- we are looking for your craft and for your soul and that is something YOU and your HEART and your experience of life brings.
So stop where you are and dont compare yourself or covet what you see as beyond you.
Luxuriate in what you have done, live your life as an extraordinarily lucky person, celebrate yourself, dare to change your resume to show theatre first.
The theatre is something to be proud of in this vast country because the professional theatre is arguably only 60 years old here. The blood, sweat and tears that have made it have come with blind faith and no money – The victories and the magic that happens – is yours, all yours.
Theatre was and will continue to be the reliable source of talent that goes into all the film and television that is made- not just here – but in many other countries in the world. I mean think about Broadway or the West End and how people use it to prove their legitimacy as “serious artists”. Please celebrate the theatre what you have given to its continuance. You are a gift, your craft is a gift, you have a “noble” calling , your numbers are few, and its time that you were celebrated. So I write this to celebrate you all.
You can all join my “agency” anytime, the door is open, the coffee and tea is always on, the table has food and a box of tissue, there are books for your souls and poetry for your heart, there are plays that will build beautiful new worlds, and there is a dram of something for courage when needed, and always a smile, a laugh and a story to remind you: you are loved and you are not alone, never alone.
I will fight for each and everyone of you to hold your heads high.. I raise my glass to you, I salute you and thank you for the courage of your hearts which has brought beauty, laughter, eye opening – consciousness raising challenges and pure love to mine..
Here’s to you: You agents of provocativeness and charm, you Socratic questions all…
Kristina Nicoll is Assistant Artistic Director of the Tarragon Theatre. She originally wrote this piece as a Facebook note to her friends.