I’m in the middle of a show put on by an amateur theatre group. And it’s got me wondering whether the word amateur is the right one to use.
My dictionary list various meanings for the amateur, including:
1 a person who engages in an activity, esp a sport, as a past time rather than professionally or for gain
3 a person unskilled in or having only a superficial knowledge of a subject or activity
And for professional it says:
2. engaging in an activity for gain or as a means of livelihood
3 extremely competent in a job
Now I can see a conflict here. Just because someone does an activity as a past time doesn’t mean they are extremely competent at it. Likewise, just because someone is paid to do something doesn’t make them competent at it.
We’ve just done our opening night of this run and mistakes were made by almost (if not all) of the teams involved: cast, band, stage, sound and lights. But we all carried on as if nothing had happened. The audience probably didn’t notice the mistakes because they were corrected quickly without a fuss. In fact at one point the lights were faded out just before a song had finished but I managed to recover the situation in time and none of the cast that I spoke to even noticed!To me, that means being competent at what we are doing, ie professional. But as we’re not paid, by definition, we can’t be professional!
So should there be a different word for groups of people who partake in an activity for fun but are still competent at at? Profamateur perhaps?