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'Third-Rate Actors' The Regional (or tour, or non-equity, or whatever that isn't NY or LA) Dilemma

lovetoactlovetoact Registered User Posts: 403 Member
In another thread on this forum, there was a discussion about which schools produce 'tippy-top' performers, and what it means to be a top-tier school or performer. This got me thinking about a podcast that I like called 'Three on the Aisle' from American Theatre Magazine. In one episode, the hosts interview Holly Twyford, a well-regarded actor in D.C. and what it means to be a regional actor (especially such a celebrated one), and why regional theatre may be more valuable (maybe not financially though) to a performer than NY theatre is. Here's the link:

https://www.americantheatre.org/2017/10/26/three-on-the-aisle-great-actors-struggle-audiences-pay-a-bundle/

Also, onstageblog has an article on the same subject:

http://www.onstageblog.com/new-blog-1/2018/5/19/are-regional-actors-third-rate

Obviously, being a Broadway actor is one pinnacle of this profession, but there are 'rock stars' in every profession (we've all heard of Dr. Oz, but my cardiologist is good at his job and enjoys it without having notoriety). Yes, it's financially more rewarding to be in a big theatre market, but if my kids can really enjoy their creative work, who am I to judge whether they do their thing in one of the most expensive cities in the country, or a regional theatre scene, or even while also juggling three other jobs in this gig economy?

What do you think?
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Replies to: 'Third-Rate Actors' The Regional (or tour, or non-equity, or whatever that isn't NY or LA) Dilemma

  • CaMom13CaMom13 Registered User Posts: 454 Member
    I think it's a good perspective to consider. When we visited Temple I did some research on the Philly theater scene and Philly claims to be a city where working actors can actually make a living, buy a house, raise a family an actor's salary. That sounds pretty good to me but I'm not an artist I'm a parent! I've always felt but if an actor could be happy with regional work they'd be better off overall. My kid, however, wants to live and work in NYC. I'm hoping over the years she will open up her mind to other options.
  • PaperTropePaperTrope Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    @CaMom13 Ditto that about Philly. The combination of friendly faculty and business connections at Temple made it an attractive option for my D. Availability of professional theatre opportunities, and the dynamic environment that creates, became an important geographical factor. A little research about what is happening locally is completely worth the time when selecting a school. D is headed to St. Louis, another city where professional theatre thrives.
  • MTDad2025MTDad2025 Registered User Posts: 22 Junior Member
    Living in Houston, this topic is very much on my mind as my D starts her college search. Great refreshing point of view. Thanks for posting.
  • jeffandannjeffandann Registered User Posts: 671 Member
    My d lives in Indianapolis and is happy pursuing her career there at this point. Been in several shows, gotten callbacks, etc. Isn't there a statistic that says something like 99% of theater jobs are outside of NYC?
  • rickle1rickle1 Registered User Posts: 1,096 Senior Member
    This is an important thread / topic. Starting to have these conversations with D as she (they all do) sets her sites so high. My hope is the actual art trumps the fame and she can be happy performing in regional theater should she not make it on Broadway. More need to start thinking this way.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 4,321 Senior Member
    I know a lot of ny based actors who do tons of regional theater and tours. They end up with relationships with directors that get them more work as well as repeat gigs (i.e., off to Cleveland or Pittsburgh for a Christmas Carol every December. ) Some of the lucky ones find themselves in resort communities for the summer (Nantucket, anyone?) which ain't all bad! And these often involve several plays and several roles over the season which many welcome after 8 of the same every week for years.

    It's a tough way to manage a "conventional " life for sure, especially when a year long European tour gets tossed in from time to time, but plenty of folks, including dual-actor couples, manage and would choose it over any other career in a heartbeat.

  • alwaysamomalwaysamom Registered User Posts: 12,125 Senior Member
    @vvnstar makes some excellent points. Any student who has a Broadway-or-bust, or any parent who goes into this thinking that their kid will end up on Broadway, isn't being realistic and is likely to end up very disappointed. Check the number of Broadway credits that any big name theatre actor has, then think about how many years they've been in the business. You'll quickly realize that for most of that time, they have not been on a Broadway stage. Most actors (think of the tens of thousands of actors in NYC alone) will never grace a Broadway stage. Most actors who are able to earn a decent living do so with performing in many other venues and locations.

    The regional theatres mentioned are largely great opportunities but they are also very competitive. Many roles are going to be cast/offered even before auditions are held. I'll add Williamstown Theatre Festival to the list, as well as the Stratford Theatre Festival (the largest and most successful (primarily) Shakespeare Festival outside of the UK. These, as well as most of the others listed in this thread, hold auditions in NYC, so it's not as though they are only going to be looking for actors in their neck of the woods. This is a tough business, and that cannot be overstated. Even the successful Broadway actors know that no job is forever and that they are constantly having to audition for that next gig, and supplement for probably months in between with other types of cabarets/concert shows, etc.

    It's a tough business but it's also a wonderful business for those who have the desire, perseverance, good work ethic, and drive, in addition to talent. Keeping an open mind, making connections in as many ways as possible, and considering opportunities that present themselves as to how they will advance your career, will put you on a positive path.

  • LoveTheBardLoveTheBard Registered User Posts: 1,892 Senior Member
    I would add The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego to @vvnstar's list. Like the La Jolla Playhouse, it is a great regional theatre with a fine Shakespeare summer theatre festival that occasionally sends some pretty great stuff (e.g., the Gentlemen's Guide to Murder, Allegiance).
  • EmsDadEmsDad Registered User Posts: 1,470 Senior Member
    edited June 13
    To clarify one stat in my post above:

    The number for the amount of work listed as "Broadway" (23.3%) includes all Point of Organization (almost exclusively Broadway), Full and Tiered Tours, and Developmental Lab contracts.
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