The Best Christmas Presents for Actors
Christmas is a difficult time for many people for many reasons. It’s certainly a difficult time for actors if they haven’t booked a job over Christmas but an even more difficult time for actors’ loved ones, who have no idea what to get them for Christmas!
Whether you’re looking to impress your actor girlfriend or a stage manager with an actor for Secret Santa, here are a few tips for the best Christmas presents to get actors and actresses, that they will love.
Script Springback Binder
First up is a practical present. You might be wondering what is so epic about this suggestion, but this is one of the best presents an actor can receive. Trust me, I’m an actor. Every actor will know the pain of trying to keep 60 pages of script tidy after 3 weeks of rehearsal. They will know the difficulty when you take that page to the stage, try to act with script in hand and, ultimately, having to make notes on it, whilst standing up.
The binder is easy to use, for quick access, adding A4 pages in or taking them out. The actor can then keep the whole script together instead of breaking up all the pages. If you live with an actor, you’ll know the joy of finding random pages of script everywhere. The best thing about the binder is, it looks professional. Which is really the impression you want to give as you sit down for that nervous first table read. In the past, I’ve even clipped a reading light to the top of the binder, perfect for if you’re working in a dark rehearsal room or doing a rehearsed reading in bad light.
I’d recommend getting the A4 Springback Leuchtturm1917, not the cheapest binder on the market but I have used it in everything single play or reading I’ve ever worked on.
The Golden Rules of Acting
There are lots of really wonderful books for actors, but The Golden Rules of Acting by Andy Nyman, is my favourite, by a country mile. It was given to me as a gift from an actor friend and I’ve since given it as a gift to other actors. It’s a splendid, inexpensive gift to give at the end of a play run, when you’re looking for something meaningful without breaking the bank, but this is perfect for a Christmas present because if the intended receiver is anything like me, they will keep revisiting this book.
Andy Nyman (Ghost Stories, Judy, Severance) is an actor who’s most certainly been there and done it. The book and sequel are short and incredibly easy to read, with plenty of inspiring quotes from famous actors and tips on how to survive in the profession. I found it not only enjoyable to read but very grounding. For young budding actors and experienced actors alike, this is a must-read and a wonderful actor stocking filler.
Online Acting Classes / Courses
One of the most difficult things for a young actor to do is get into drama schools to train to be a professional. There are a limited number of places and it’s highly competitive. While the future of drama schools is being debated, a new form of acting training is here in the form of online courses that you can do remotely and in your own time. You could get the training you need without having to leave the house and use classes to skill up, on various aspects of your actor toolbox before your next audition.
Classes can be taken in acting, singing and dancing on-demand with a membership to iampro that gets you access to downloadable resources and a collaborative artistic community as part of the subscription. This makes for a great present for an actor currently out of the job and looking for the edge or a young actor who just missed out of a place at drama school.
Online Yoga Lessons
Every actor has an actor friend who swears by yoga. Yoga for professional actors is not a new concept. It’s been around in drama schools ever since yoga hit the shores of the UK. This is twofold, either you have an actor friend that is into yoga in which case, this is obviously a great gift, or you are into yoga and you’ve been saying things like, ‘Yoga could really help with that’, or ‘Yoga changed my life’, and now it’s time to put your Christmas money where your mouth is.
It’s becoming increasingly popular among actors but with the pandemic, it’s become increasingly difficult to go to a yoga class. Attending yoga classes that are online is a perfect way to introduce yourself to yoga or keep up that much-needed yoga momentum. You can choose when you do it and do it from the comfort of your own home. Ideal for before a big audition or after finishing a tiring acting job.
Whichever way you want to look at it, all actors need to be part of a casting website. There are many possible casting websites that actors can join, in the UK but also that span the US and the rest of the world but the biggest is Spotlight. It’s a necessity for actors to create a profile on Spotlight in order for their agents to put them up for acting jobs. The issue here is it doesn’t come cheap.
This may be one for the parents. It’s not a fancy present but believe me, it will certainly be appreciated, filling the actor with that warm fuzzy feeling that comes after the thought that they will be able to pay their rent and that outstanding gas bill. You never know, granting an actor the gift of Spotlight membership might be gifting them the gift of an acting audition and dare I say it, a job. The biggest gift anyone can give to an actor.
While we are on the topic of memberships, here be a controversial one. This is one of those things that actors probably should do, what they would like to do but that many don’t do. Equity is the biggest actor’s union in the UK and stands up for actor’s rights across theatre, film, television and radio across the world.
Gaining Equity membership not only protects the actor from being walked over but also creates an opportunity to be paid properly, including receiving a pension. Just like wearing a mask is not just about protecting yourself, joining Equity is about protecting the professional acting industry as a whole and joining it is playing your part in protecting other actors from being exploited. Buying Equity membership for an actor could be buying them much more than a simple Christmas present. Save an Actor this Christmas.
This is another one of those things that actors will go without to achieve. Acting headshots can range from £50 to £500 and can be anything from shockingly bad to shockingly good. Most actors know if they want to get good headshots, that is much needed to attract that all-important casting director to click on their C.V, that it’s going to be an important investment.
Whether you just put a bit towards booking an actor headshot photographer for a headshot refresh or want to surprise an actor with full on headshot session, giving the gift of actor headshots to an actor is like buying McDonalds a new TV advert, you’re giving the actor a fresh opportunity to sell themselves to the acting world.
This is an easy one. Especially from actor to actor. It will be somewhere on every actors Christmas list. Reading plays, old and new, helps the actors to learn different styles of writing, discover different characters and can be the best source of finding monologues for auditions.
My advice is to read as many new plays as possible and really try and understand what is current and exciting in the industry. The National Theatre book shop is a great place to find interesting new plays that would make a fab little Christmas present. The shop also has plenty of other little quirky actor and theatre themed Christmas presents, that might tickle your festive fancy.
Second on every actor’s New Year’s resolution list, after 1. Read More Plays, is 2. See More Theatre! The theatre scene in the UK is dying and it’s important to support the theatre and the arts, not just for the sake of actors but in my opinion, for the sake of humanity. Whether it’s tickets to the West End, a season pass at your local theatre, or tickets to go support one of your actor buddies in that fringe play that got terrible reviews, whatever you do, deciding to support theatre is a fantastic thing.
Experiential Christmas gifts are not only something to look forward to but are a sustainable and ethical way of giving a Christmas present. Make an actor happy, make David Attenborough happy, change the world. As the great Bernard Shaw put it:
“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
Hopefully, these Christmas present ideas will help you find an actor friendly gift in your moment of Christmas present crisis. Whether you need to go big or just want to make an actor smile this Christmas, there should be an actor Christmas present idea here for you.