Trying to protect jobs for their respective members, the American and British stage actors’ unions, collectively known as the Equitys, have not always made such bridges viable. A reciprocity arrangement introduced to improve the situation has become, Mr. Spacey said, “a bit of a star system,” leaving out “a lot of people who don’t qualify under the heading of international stars but are nonetheless brilliant, seasoned actors.” Instead of a true melding of sensibilities, the result is often what Mr. Mendes called a “shotgun marriage” that devalues American actors; in film, he said, “no one bats an eyelid if there is a mixture of Americans and British.”
Mr. Spacey agreed. “I’ve always found it strange that a director can hire any designer he wants from any country,” he said. “But if he hires a foreign actor, it’s like he’s stolen the crown jewels and run across the river with them.” This is especially so on the American side, where many fear that if the bridge were opened, traffic would flow in one direction only.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Bridging the Theatre Cultures
Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendes talk about their new venture of staging classics in repertory, with a mixed company of American and British actors.