U.K.'s Casting Directors' Guild Calls on Film, TV Industry to "Safeguard Future" of Theater

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The guild says the talent pool the screen industries rely on faces the "greatest existential threat in a generation."

The U.K.'s Casting Directors' Guild has urged the British TV and film industry to help safeguard the future of U.K. theater amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, arguing that screen media rely heavily on the stage talent pool. 

"Television and film continue to reap the benefits of U.K. theaters’ innovation and industry, with artists now celebrated for their screen work – from Sam Mendes to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Abi Morgan to Chiwetel Ejiofor – having forged their careers on and around stages of all sizes in the U.K. and Ireland," wrote Guild committee members Victor Jenkins (who is also the organization's chair), vice chair Priscilla John, Andy Brierley, Sophie Parrott, Kate Ringsell and Jessica Ronan.

"Put simply, television comedy, for example, would be forever changed without the Edinburgh Fringe, leading actors in studio films would never have been discovered without the bold experimentation of affiliate theaters, and celebrated screenwriters would have gone un-nurtured without their local theater’s new writing schemes."

The Guild added that it was vital that the "more financially robust sectors of the arts" didn't abandon its colleagues from the stage and offered creative and financial assistance to save British theaters and "keep the wheel of talent turning." It pointed to an initiative set up in the early 1960s that saw the establishment of the Regional Theatre Young Directors' Scheme, which helped give a platform to creators and includes the likes of Ken Loach among its alumni. 

"We believe that television and film production companies must confront a stark reality: that, without your help, the talent pool which we all rely on faces its greatest existential threat in a generation," the Guild said.