The Xmas season here in Ubud, Bali – stifling hot one minute, pouring with rain the next was stress –free, no shopping or cooking! The Hindus do not utilize our Holidays- Xmas Day was like any other -and yet several shook hands with me to wish me a Happy Xmas.

This time of year traditionally makes us all the more intensely aware of people who are in poverty, have no choice of where they live, what they eat, and what their survival occupation is. To me poverty is lacking fresh water, sanitation, some form of shelter and food every day, and the choice to get a job or move to another country.

There is definitely a choice for performers –whether they are circus artistes, street performers, visual performance artists, dancers and singers, musicians, and the common or garden actors! Nobody actually makes them enter the entertainment profession, naturally they can be coerced initially by doting mums and dads, and fame and fortune.

So for many years I have attended Graduation performances from WAAPA, NIDA, QUT down to local acting classes run by agents or school drama departments. Most of these Graduations take place towards the end of the year when traditionally the Film and Television business is slowing down ready to embrace the silly season.  How many times have I watched those trim taut and terrific people perform their socks off in the attempt to secure an Agent, be seen by a Casting Director or hundred? And then they gather around in secure clumps clutching their champagnes and summoning up the courage to start the Big Sell…I think of lemmings . .and wonder who is going to survive the race.

I have such admiration for these people who have possibly defied their families and friends to have the courage to put themselves forward for  personal humiliation, extreme highs, rejection, and peer acknowledgement of their talent/skills.  So to see well-known Agents and Casting people scuttle away as soon as the performances are over has always  got to me. During the two, three or four years these Graduates have worked hard – otherwise they should not be Graduating? – there have been several productions available to the Industry and general public to give us all a hint of  their future expertise, and from these, usually the top Agents, start to make their choices ready to “bid” at Graduation time.

Some Drama schools allow their students to be represented before Graduation, but then all could change when an even better Agent tenders?! Of course these lucky Agents can run back to their offices having made their minds up previously. I do think that Casting people have a duty to remain and communicate – but then nearly all the drama schools have their Graduation ceremonies all within the same couple of weeks Nationally and it’s really expensive and time consuming to attend them all.

Graduates are put out to graze and find their ways just as the Casting has been done for the year, the New Year …and those who have not banded together, creating Playreadings, new companies to perform with especially over the Xmas season,. and so continuing to hone their craft, will have a much bigger battle to the sea…especially as the intensive and disciplined activity is no longer available and there could be a big big gap….before employment. Those who have worked hard, paid their dues to date ( have been responsible for paying for their lessons, treating their chosen profession as a Business too) have a head-start. This is a small world and it’s amazing what people remember).

Now we are in 2010 there will be some very very lucky recipients of places in the top drama schools – their choice to audition- but the choice of the adjudicators to accept them will have been even more finite – the standard has to be higher – there a fewer jobs…but then Producers have an even bigger choice.

Make the best of your freedom of choice …Happy New Year!