A group of young people who might otherwise struggle to pursue a career in the theatre have been cast within an ensemble that will work at the RSC’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon. The talent development programme the Next Generation will include aspiring actors from black, Asian, minority ethnic and low-income backgrounds, many of whom have had little access to the arts but show real potential.
Hannah Miller, the RSC’s casting director, said: “It’s pretty clear that the people that are working in the industry, and the way our world is represented on stage and screen, are not reflective of society as a whole. What we want to do with this and future projects is redress that by starting at the grassroots.”
She added: “We want to help them believe a career as an actor could be for them – that it’s not an alien world.”
Further evidence of elitism in the arts was offered in a report commissioned last year by the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, which expressed alarm at the lack of non-white performers in UK productions. His foundation will award almost £122,000 over three years towards the RSC’s Next Generation programme.
The RSC selected 20 teenagers, aged 13 to 16, and a smaller group aged 16 to 18, after a series of masterclasses earlier this year and through the company’s ongoing contact with schools across the country.