Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation

Flip's Story

Actors face problems of practicalities.

Actors, like Doctors, are ‘on call’ – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unless they tell their agent they are not available.  The profession has got used to this, and perhaps thinking that if one actor is not available there will always be another who could similarly do the job has meant the idea of giving much notice is not imprinted in their thinking.

Actors often get a call at 5.30pm to be at an interview/audition/casting at 10.30am the next morning.  Not only that, but there is a script arriving by email that they want learnt for the next day. The practicalities might be that you have children whose homework you are supervising and whose dinner you are cooking.  Or you may have other caring responsibilities. You may have theatre tickets that night, you may have to cancel a medical appointment and pay a late cancellation fee and you may have to arrange someone to drop the kids off in the morning so you can prepare and travel to your casting – at your own expense and for which you are not being paid. 

There are many parts that could be cast with a truer reflection of the diverse society in which we live – older women are often absent in a production or mere stereotypes, many parts written for men could be played by women.  Similar restrictions face the Deaf and Disabled and ethnic minorities.  We would appreciate greater imagination being used. Audiences want variety of casting and to see people like themselves. We would like casting directors, directors and producers to know what questions it is illegal to ask actors to save them embarrassment. We would like casting studios to be accessible for the disabled and older, less mobile actors.

If you value someone, you treat them with respect and you pay them for the job they are doing because they are a professional.  In another profession, if you don’t get the job you will be informed and you may even be given some feedback on why that is. If you are invited for a second interview you will be given expenses and these will be paid in less than the 12 months - that is currently the time it often takes in our industry.

This starts to sound like disrespect.

The vast majority of actors will do their absolute best to arrive prepared and on time for an audition having done their research and learnt their lines to the best of their ability. They will also not complain when the script is different by the time they get to the casting. Most casting directors will be aware of that but many seem not to have given any of the above a thought.