Only eight more posts until I complete this challenge. Last week most of my posts were about the acting profession which, since they appear as part of my Acting Website, I thought was apposite. I shall rant about politics on a new site in the new year. Although, I don’t think actors can keep out of politics.
Most of us actors tend to be left-wing because it is easier to empathise with the poor and the powerless than the privileged and wealthy. Actors – and indeed all artists – tend not to be employed in their chosen profession for most of their lives so take other jobs to cover basic living expenses. These jobs are generally lowly paid – more about that later. Also actors will have experienced “signing on” for when no jobs are available and will often live in unsecured rented accommodation.
I’m not poor at the moment but I have been. Not third-world poor but worried about paying bills and desperately wanting to avoid the humiliation of having to borrow money from family and friends. The worst thing about lacking a job and thus money is the perception that you are lazy. It’s called National Insurance so if you’ve, or your family, have paid contributions then, when in need, there should be no more stigma in claiming benefit than claiming for repairs to an insured crashed car.
Actors – no, I think I want to use the term artistes from now on to cover all the creative arts from dancers to sculptors to musicians – are always having to scramble for funding and fight for fair wages. Whilst the mega-stars command mega payments (I use the word command rather than earn deliberately) the jobbing actor is lucky to be paid the basic union rate.
An actor friend of mine earned £300 for a small part for a day’s work on television earlier this year. That’s a fairly large amount but, of course, it was all he earned that week and it meant he had to sign off benefits. He did not moan, actors know the business has no rules and that it is over-crowded but it did grate when his pals said that they’d seen him on the telly and then asked where the Merc was, and thought he ought to buy an extra round of drinks!
I often joke when miserable or angry at some injustice, that the one good thing about strong feelings is that they can be channelled when studying a character. The despair felt when reading about another suicide bombing or another hospital closure or, as today, reading about how the Taliban will not allow children to be vaccinated against polio because the do-going westerners are injecting with stuff to sterilise the children; that sort of despair could be used to play a tragic Greek figure or Lady Macbeth or a woman in a soap opera being wrongly accused of a crime.
No, it’s not worth it.
The world is not fit for purpose.
Humanity lack empathy.
How one person can not realise that their victim is some mother’s son defeats me.
Of course, there are lots of artists who are right-wing and who believe that dog-eat-dog is a better maxim that all-for-one-and-all-for-ine. They believe that the weak are feckless and should not be mollycoddled. And yet some of the kindest people I know have voted tory, the smiley man who lives downstairs (with an Eastern European wife!) is a ukip member and some of my best friends still think lib-dems are misunderstood.
Let me tell you now a story about a girl I know who worked on a zero hours basis. She temps regularly at a company where, if she was never late and met all her targets, a £150 bonus was on offer each week. One day, due to finish work at 5:30 she realised at 5:20 that she had exceeded the day’s target, so she went to the ladies to freshen up. She logged off her computer at 5:30. That week she received no bonus. She was, the supervisor informed her, only entitled to two ten minute breaks a day but she had been away from her desk for ten minutes and five seconds; the computer clock was always accurate. That’s the world of the temp.
(Threatened with litigation on this occasion and without prejudice the company backed down but not all casual workers have access to legal advice and most are too scared to make a fuss in case they are not employed the following week; zero hours, remember!)
Temps have no union to represented them, no written contract, no sick pay etc; although they do get statutory holiday pay and have to be paid the minimum wage; a wage that it is just about possible to live on if you are very careful. The minimum wage came about because of the previous Labour Government as did other benefits. At the moment the London living wage is just a recommendation – many business are against it being made law because they can’t afford it. I suppose there are two sides to that story.
I am not an economist but I do see that if you give a poor person money she will spend it on goods and services whereas if you give a rich person an extra quid or two he is more likely to invest it, i.e. take it out of the economy.
So I am a Labour Party Supporter because I guess I agree with about eighty percent of their policies and philosophies; far more than I agree with any of the other parties. I like the Greens, dinner with the tories always involves better wines than the lib-dems and no one philosophical group can be totally condemned for joined up thinking; well apart from the racists, the homophobes and the religious fundamentalists who, to get back to the first part, lack empathy.
Am working as an actress all day today – maybe tomorrow’s post will be lighter.