Wednesday, 18 April 2012

All The World's A Stage

Monday the 16th April, 16:07pm. Nobody likes a Manic Monday, so famously sung by The Bangles, especially when it's been spent debating over Britain's current world status and whether I should plump for the healthy option of pasta salad or sweet indulgence of a jacket potato with cheese. It was Monday afternoon and I was thinking of something to do. Scanning my homework timetable I was made aware of an essay due in for the following day and being well within the knowledge that I had work in less than two hours, I thought a little procrastination would be perfect. Never did last years exams any harm.

I remember a certain Irishman rambling on about a video I might be interested in on YouTube by a university lecturer called Sir Ken Robinson. After a hectic day, it's hard to say what drew me this particular clip given by, what I was adament would be, some old bloke from Oxford or Cambridge relentlessly hammering on about his OBE or current affairs or quantum physics or something requiring more intellect than I had to spare. I think I was feeling guilty about the jacket potato.

However, what I found was something far more exciting. Being an actor - well, I like to call myself an actor after being in a few shows and aspiring to pursue that career - I have an opinion that I feel everyone should know about. Such a stereotype but we'll go with it. My opinion is that no person should be made to feel inadequate because they find their strengths lie in more vocational subjects. Sceptical is a lightly used adjective for what I was experiencing before the clip began and so I was more than a little surprised when Sir Ken's argument was the same as mine. It was unequivocally refreshing to see a middle-aged (sorry, Ken), male university professor stand up for us creative types in the paragon world of education. His point being that the art subjects such as dance, drama and music aren't given the same hierarchical status as other subjects such as maths and english and whilst I understand that the latter two are important, there is no reason why the arts cannot be treated with similar severity.

A few years ago I was at a breakfast table with my parents in a little B&B on a Cornish coast. Joining us that morning was a couple from London who were renting out a holiday house just up one of the windy roads behind the establishment. The couple were lovely, genuine people, don't get me wrong and I quickly learned that she was a highly trained lawyer. Interesting, I mused over my Weetabix, and that was the end of the conversation. That is, until, she turned to me and asked me what I wanted to do in the future. I was about fourteen at the time and since the age of about eleven or twelve I knew that acting was my career of choice and so I came out with it, confident as the sun in Mauritius. I expected smiles and words of guidance or support or something; what I didn't expect was an awkward silence and the obvious conclusion that everyone's Weetabix was a lot more interesting than what I had said. That shocked me a little and worse than that it made me doubtful.

I don't deny the industry is tough - every actor is aware of that and has to embrace that or they're definitely not going to make it. Hey, we don't even mind being laughed at! But does that give the right for others to make it even tougher for us by discouraging our ambitions with snide comments, pensive looks and regular disregard in various educational systems? Sure, we need doctors and lawyers and teachers and we even need MP's sometimes but when you look at the broader picture, the creative folk are everywhere we go and are necessary everywhere we go: artists drew plans to build the cities, Mozart composed music to boost brain power, Shakespeare wrote plays to express an opinion and dancers sent messages to the skies to bring them good weather for food crops. When the words of a doctor or the trials by a lawyer become too much, theatre, music and dance are there to entertain; to bring joy; to make everything all right again.

Now, to me, the ability to make people happy as well as yourself all at the same time is an ability worth commending and one very few professions can say they do. This isn't an article to scorn the schools or any other academic experts out there, far from it. It is simply a plea for recognition for the arts. I heard a really sad story from a friend about an old cinema in Bristol called the Whiteladies Picture House. Unfortunately, the Picture House was closed down and hasn't been in use for many years until the government thought it would be a splendid opportunity to turn this elegant, historical, fascinating building into a gym and flats. That was some of the most disappointing news I had heard in a long time but what is good is that there is a team of people working against this motion and trying to restore the Picture House into a fully functioning area for creative people - what it was always intended for. Petitions can still be signed so if anyone supports my friend and his team of people, check out the facebook page and follow it on Twitter and voice your support to restore it - the more voices, the louder the cry.

What is also sad is that I had to research Sir Ken Robinson for this video and his opinion when really it should already have been heard and recognised and appreciated by everyone and maybe even steps taken to move on some of his ideas. All it takes is support and belief and a little bit of charisma. Shakespeare once wrote 'All the world's a stage' and when you think about it, how true.

This is just a little introduction into what I'm about. Everything I write will be about the arts whether it be acting or music. You can find reviews, experiences, opinions and maybe even tips on this blog so make sure you take time to take a look.

1 comment:

  1. I really have nothing to add so I am going to go with well said Beth, and may nothing and no-one stop you in pursuing your dreams.