It’s always a pleasure when the annual Actors and Performers Yearbook arrives from Bloomsbury although I do wish they’d put some possessive apostrophes in the title. Modelled on the much older Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook (which DOES have apostrophes) it is packed full of information such as contact details of casting directors, agents, producers, companies, fringe theatres and much more. It is, of course, updated every year although like any annual directory it battles against constant change and, inevitably, the odd detail will be out of date before the book is published and read in hard form or electronically.
Best of all though, are the articles. This time there’s a new one by Bruce Wall (wonderful man who changes lives every day) about his pioneering work in prisons and one by Anthony Holmes on creating good showreels – among others.
As you’d expect it’s the training section which interests me most. Don’t miss the longstanding article by Geoffrey Colman on what drama schools are looking for and an upbeat encouraging piece by Hugh Osborne, who trained at Bristol Old Vic to become an actor at the age of 37 and now has a pretty impressive West End and touring CV.
It’s very useful to have so many options for under-18 training listed in one place along with a run down or short and part-time courses. Part-time tutors and coaches have a section too.
Another regular feature which I find invaluable is devoted to children’s, young people’s and theatre in education. Companies and organisations are listed and there’s an article by Paul Harman who was in at the beginning of it all at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in 1966.
Above all it’s a practical book – nearly 500 pages of detailed information which could make all the difference between an actor/performer (or even a journalist!) making the right contacts or not. Congratulations editor Lloyd Trott, Academy Dramaturg at RADA who, several years ago, replaced the late Simon Dunmore. The 2018 edition is well up to standard.