I am not sure if we have always been as pragmatic as we are today.
This pragmatism has eroded the importance of the work in favour of the “being in work”. It is a pragmatism that says “You can have my full commitment when…” It adds footnotes to vocation, small print to passion.
Such pragmatism is all the more compellingly awful in my view because of this: it is so acceptable at a day-to-day level.
However, as we focus on our Darwinistic needs, it has certain outcomes on the stage that inhibit performance. Essentially this: You cannot look your fellow actor in the eye in a way that electrifies an audience if, at the same time, you have half an eye on your invoices. You cannot set off passionately forwards if part of you is busy looking over your shoulder or, worse, out in the audience to see if an agent is there.
It is a harsh reality for many actors – indeed many people in life – that financial pressures dictate the kind of work they feel they have to do. Also, it is often a justification given for being “mean” and “cautious” – “I can’s afford NOT to.”. The price for many is too great, especially when they look back from a longer term perspective. Each act of “meanness” and “mistrust” adds up and becomes habitual, turning into a suit of armour that eventually rusts onto them, even sticking to the skin. Imagine that metaphor as clearly as you can. Then imagine an actor, wearing that armour, confusing it for skin, lumbering sluggishly around the stage, attempting to be flexible and sprightly.