By Rena Bryson
So this may be a more of a rant than a blog due to the subject matter but stick with me. I think most Irish creatives will understand the frustration of being unable to put themselves forward for a role / gig / design project etc. they know they would be perfect for. The issue isn’t that there is a lack of opportunities but that the opportunities are not open to all artists. Hazel and I first moved to Galway to pursue our acting careers. It’s a place infamous for culture, constantly producing new work, there must be so many exciting roles to audition for! We wrongly presumed. We quickly realised although there was a lot of exciting work being made in Galway, auditions were pretty much unheard of. This obstacle led to the creation of Eva’s Echo our company which always holds open castings and produces new work.
Of course this is not just a Galway issue, or even just an Irish issue. Although I do think we can be particularly guilty for for hiring ‘Mary’ over and over again because she’s great craic! Like most large issues I believe the issue stems from the top down. As an organisation who’s ethos centres on emerging artists and open castings we find funding applications particularly difficult. In most situations you must state the entire team in the application that will permit the production to take place at all. This requirement means most funded organisations don’t hold open castings as they will have had to state the names of each team member and instead of auditioning several months before rehearsals begin they print the names of their regular collaborators. The emphasis on the credentials and achievements of the creatives in applications also deters companies from working with emerging artists.
Often the lack of new blood in a professional company or even community drama group is not due to funding applications but rather comfort. Directors and facilitators can become comfortable with their group and become extremely close. Many can become concerned that a new creative would upset the dynamic of the group. To this I say comfort is the death of creativity, yes it is true that you will discover who you work best with throughout your career but you will never know what a new perspective can add to a production until you welcome a new voice.