Respect for Actors

By Robinson, Diane | American Theatre, October 2006 | Go to article overview
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Respect for Actors


Robinson, Diane, American Theatre


CHICAGO: As J. Michael Miller's National Actors Congress travels the country, he hopes to remind actors of the universality of what they do--to reinforce the idea that they are part of a community, to help them find ways to strengthen their voices in their profession, and to enhance the public's awareness of the actor as the "essential theatre artist."

Miller, founder of the Actors Center in New York, held a day-long series of panel discussions with an invited audience of Chicago actors at the American Theater Company in early August. The four talks were comprised of local theatre critics, prominent local actors, young actors starting careers with ensembles, and actors-turned--artistic directors.

Some expressed concerns about their dwindling ability to contribute to how shows are created. "If the rehearsal period is only going to be two weeks, then actors should have a chance to provide input into the design aspects of the show in advance," said Carmen Roman, a much-honored Chicago actor who has recently relocated to New York, and who helped organize Miller's Windy City visit. "In this age of e-mail and scanning images, we should be able to see our costumes and the set we'll be working on well before we walk into the first day of rehearsal."

Other actors expressed concern that producers in Chicago were bringing in actors from New York and Los Angeles to help market their productions. "Market the Chicago actor as the face of theatre to the Chicago public," urged actor Roslyn Alexander, addressing the panel of artistic directors.

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