See as much as you can. This means not only supporting the work of the people you already know, but of those that you don't know. Yes, support your friends, but support friends of friends. We are a network of creatives at the end of the day, and the fact that you can show you are interested in productions other than the ones you perform in, goes a long way when approaching companies and venues.
Research. Support work that interests you. If you really want to perform in a Classical play, research any companies that specialise in this and check them out. If you have shown interest in the production/company before an audition, it really does cement your interest in the company in the audition room.
Don't be afraid to ask to meet with one of the creative team or cast after a show. Often, they will agree to meet with an actor who has admired their work from the audience and are genuinely interested in hearing a new voice or interpretation. Personally, I have been able to collaborate and work on projects with directors and actors by asking if I could grab them for a coffee to discuss their work in detail. And even if no work comes of it, the fact that both of you have taken the time and money to meet with each other out of pure curiosity, is a stepping stone for both parties.
Attend workshops with companies. Increasingly popular amongst fledgling as well as renowned theatre companies is the access to workshops with their team. They vary in price and content, but to get a real essence of what that company is about, and whether you think you are a right match for them, these workshops are an incredibly useful resource for an actor.
Have a ( / ) to your name. Actor/producer, actor/director, actor/make-up artist, whatever it is, it shows to them you want to be involved in the company and production as a whole and to you the job doesn't stop when you exit stage right. Fringe Theatre is arguably the most osmotic form of theatre in terms of creative roles; we are seeing more and more actors who are also producers, stage managers, writers, directors, costume designers the list goes on. But these actors with dual roles are able to offer a Fringe production more than a performer, they are offering a valuable member of the production team as well. I have been able to secure an acting job because I could offer my skills in 1920s hair and make-up. Another colleague was hired because they had experience in workshop leading. They have now toured with that company for eight months. If you can offer your skills in poster design, manage a lighting desk or be experienced in set construction, fringe companies will see an opportunity for working with an artisan and not just an artist.
Make the time to read plays that have been published in the last two years. Of course, familiarise yourself with the Classics, Shakespeare and Chekhov, but a great deal of the London Fringe is new writing and new plays. The questions you need to ask yourself is what style of writing is in vogue at the moment? Is my casting type wanted right now? What kind of contemporary issues are being written about by playwrights today? Evaluate these questions and seek out the stories that you could perform in.
New writing nights, rehearsed readings and short play festivals are great places for all creatives to find potential collaborators. That twenty-minute scene you saw upstairs in a pub theatre last year may be casting for its full run the following year. Everyone is looking for that perfect actor/writer/director relationship that will work for years to come. Companies want to be inspired by actors. Moreover, in these early stages of a play, casting for a full production will be in the minds of the director and playwright. It's not necessarily about meeting as many people as possible, but more about seeking out the potential in people.
Unusual skills make for memorable actors in the casting room. Fringe is naturally experimental; it is where I have seen the most original and unique pieces of theatre on offer in London. And the actors that one finds there are equally as experimental. Unique plays and projects need unique actors. So, conclusively, it's the same as getting work as an actor in any field: always be learning that one unusual skill because there may just be that one company looking for a Hungarian speaking plate spinner (it does happen).
And if you're not finding work that excites you, the Fringe is the best and easiest place to make it happen. If you don't like what you're seeing available for yourself, change that. Write the part you want to play. Direct what you want to experience as an audience member. Devise the story that hasn't been told. There are so many avenues on the Fringe, from Physical theatre Shakespeare to late night cabaret to Chekhov set in an American Diner. An actor will always find work on the Fringe if they are curious, tenacious and adventurous, because that is what the London Fringe is all about; it is a circuit for theatre professionals to experiment and develop their craft.
Emma Zadow is an actor and theatre maker having trained at Rose Bruford College in Theatre and Performance. Her debut play ‘FRIDGE’ for Blackout Creative Arts is at Etcetera Theatre 5th June. She is also @pubtheatres1 reviewer. @EmmaZadow