Neil Rutherford blog posts

Keeping Theatre A Live Experience

I read last week in The Stage about the significant increase of West End productions being digitally recorded for future viewing either through an online facility, or for screening within cinemas across the globe. CinemaLive and Digital Theatre, the two leading companies in the UK, intend to increase their current portfolio in the coming years, who’s partners include The Almeida, The Young Vic, The RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Royal Court, ETT, The Royal Exchange and producers including Sonia Friedman Productions and Stanhope Productions.

Of course, recording productions is not new – for years now many have been captured for DVD release, and remain historically important in providing an understanding, and celebration, of our incredible theatre heritage. In the Opera World, live transmissions and worldwide cinema screenings are common, along with the Royal National Theatre and others.

It’s inevitable that with the recent advances in technology and relatively …

Read more | 0 comments

TO HAVE (an agent) or NOT TO HAVE (an agent)

I was asked an interesting question at a masterclass yesterday – Was it better to have a bad agent than no agent at all?

My instinctive reaction was to say that an agent was such an important part of an actor’s life that not having one made the job impossible. But on the way home, looking through some CV’s for a new production, I noticed several from certain agents which were incomplete; no date of birth or playing age, no heights given, no singing range etc. Where other agents had bothered to note at the top of each CV which role they were submitting their actors for, these bad agents hadn’t bothered, leaving me to guess myself where best they fitted – a tough quest given the important information wasn’t available. A good agent knows what we need to see and what information to include, and let’s be clear (before I discuss the negatives) there are many, many excellent agents out there. They aren’t the ones to worry about. It's the bad 'ins we need to …

Read more | 0 comments

Twinkle Twinkle TV Star

It’s tough being rejected for a theatre job at the best of times, but it seems that the regular employment of winners from TV competitions or reality shows into mainstream productions is getting many actors backs up. ‘I could have done it much better’ is a statement I hear regularly at masterclasses and press night parties.

That statement may be true of course, but with the huge financial risks producers must undertake in order to present a professional production, there is some assurance that in casting a recent TV winner will have positive benefits at the Box Office. Not all producers feel that way, with some preferring to make the production the ‘star’ without the need for celebrity casting. But it’s rare to see a production without a famous name or two leading the company.

Take a walk around any theatre at the interval and you are likely to see posters of past productions. I would guess that almost all of them will have one or two headliner …

Read more | 0 comments

Colour Blind Casting - Where do good intentions become hindered?

I was asked recently to share my views on Colour Blind Casting - the concept where an actor of any ethnicity can play any role. It's a sensitive subject and no matter how careful one is not to offend, someone gets annoyed.  So, let me preface these thoughts by saying that nothing I have to offer here is meant to offend; it merely represents my understanding, however limited, of the casting process on this issue.

It seems to me that there are several key factors which contribute to how an actor is cast in relation to ethnicity; the historical period and location of the piece, the director's artistic vision, the writing and the audience perception.

In no particular order, the director may choose to cast by adhering to historical correctness, accurately casting from within the culture where the story takes place and the period in which it is set. Alternatively the director may choose to ignore such historical accuracy and cast from any ethnicity. Neither …

Read more | 0 comments

It Was Wonderful Darling

I found myself in the regular quandary of what to say to an actor friend this week, having just witnessed the most awful production he was starring in. I knew the production meant a lot to him, and the role was one that he had previously dreamed of playing; it was a big deal for him.

I’ve always believed it’s better to be truthful if asked ‘what did you think?’ and there are certainly ways to avoid the crucial question by answering positively on elements I did like. ‘The costumes were beautiful’, ‘I loved the sound scape’ and many others which I’ve honed over the years. But so often in our business it is difficult to truly share your real thoughts without getting reprimanded.

I recently went to see a production in the West End and was appalled. It wasn’t simply a matter of personal taste, I was annoyed that people were paying good money for something of such incredibly poor standards. There was hardly anything to redeem it and the …

Read more | 0 comments