Where Are Young Men In The Arts?

The Peer Productions team are proud to have been involved in the early stages of the careers of numerous exceedingly talented male actors, from Micheal Mac Liammoir Award nominee, Dan Ireland-Reeves, to The Wind In The Willows West End understudy, Chris Aukett. However, with a stark decrease in the number of young people opting to study GCSE Drama in the last two years – a 4% fall from 2015 to 2016, tumbling to a 9% decrease from 2016 to 2017 (The Stage the number of men pursuing careers in performing arts has dropped across the board. Here at Peer, we can’t help but ask why this is.

Ollie Parsons as Danno, Losing It‘s eccentric sexual health facilitator.

With our departing cohort this year, Peer Productions have been spoilt with a talented selection of male actors, Luke Rose progressing on to study Acting and Stage Combat at East 15, while Jamie Patterson will soon be joining Guildford School of Acting. Their engaging and varied performances over the last twelve months – whether it be Ollie Parsons’ discotheque parody of a sex education teacher in Losing It, Luke’s incarnation of Nurse Ratched in our gender-swapped One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest or Daniel Pirie’s challenge of portraying a teenage rapist – have proved that the quality of young adult male acting has never been stronger. The quantity, however, seem to be a dwindling resource.

One possible reason could be that, as the rule of thumb seems to be that more women than men study performing arts subjects on the whole, this decrease in young male actors comes simply as a result of less students studying drama and theatre in general. Another may be that, in these uncertain economic times, young people may consider the risks posed by a career in the arts to be too great, leading to many young people pursuing what are deemed to be “safer” employment paths.

David Hunter, currently playing the role of Charlie in the Adelphi Theatre’s Kinky Boots, makes the point that, while a career as an actor can prove less stable and often erratic in comparison to a more standard nine-to-five role, working in a job that you find less fulfilling in exchange for economic stability is not a trade worth making. ‘Don’t encourage your son or daughter to water down their Plan A by dedicating time to Plan B’, insists Hunter. ‘Instead, prepare your child for life’s uncertainties by instilling within them the flexibility to acknowledge opportunities when they arise, and the bravery to pursue those opportunities with dedication and determination’. While we are lucky enough to live in a time of abolished gender stereotypes and Feminist equality, perhaps there is still a residual whiff of the cross-generation notion that the man must be the breadwinner, and that a life spent acting will somehow prevent this achievement.

Times, perspectives and the job market change, however the desire to follow a career path for which you are passionate, dedicated and enthralled should not vary at the expense of the other three factors. If you’re a young man who wants to find out more, it’s not too late. This year’s FREE actor development programme starts on 18th September and male actors can still audition if they get in quick so call us on 01483 476825 to book an audition and sign up for a life changing year.

Find out all about our programme by visiting http://www.peerproductions.co.uk/participation/actor-training/

By George Somers