The original plan for this week had been to write a column bemoaning the fact that given the state of the economy and the growing concern that only the rich can afford to visit or work in theatres, our industry, which is already elitist, was going to become even more selective.

The angle has changed slightly as a result of reading Patty Hartigan’s meaty new biography of August Wilson, a review of which will appear in the next few days.

In the view of theatre’s judgemental majority, Wilson’s background as an illegitimate African-American from the wrong side of the tracks might have seemed better suited to a life of crime or the series of menial, subsistence wage jobs that the would-be writer endured prior to becoming, according to the publicity material, “the most important and successful American playwright of the late 20th century”.

Ironically, the Shakespeare authorship debate is usually based on similar prejudice. Many of those who are unwilling to accept that William Shakespeare wrote the plays of William Shakespeare do so on the basis that he was the son of a glove maker and must therefore have been ignorant. Surely, the writer of such a glorious canon has to have been a member of the aristocracy, such as the Earls of Southampton, Oxford and Derby, or maybe even Queen Elizabeth herself?

This kind of snobbery is not only dangerous but also stupid. If you want to know the kind of intellectual capabilities demonstrated by a degree from Oxbridge, then take another look at Laura Wade’s Posh or consider prime examples such as Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Suella Braverman, all of whom seem to have learned nothing at their alma mater beyond the kind of skills demonstrated by that charming but mendacious “snapper up of unconsidered trifles” Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale.

The English theatre scene for centuries bifurcated into the elite on one side and rogues and vagabonds on the other, with seemingly very little in between. More recently, our National Theatre was run by graduates from Cambridge University, while there was a general belief that neither women nor those from ethnic minorities were up to serious roles on stage or more particularly behind-the-scenes.

There is little doubt that many fine theatrical practitioners have benefited from an upmarket education and their contributions should never be diminished. However, by assuming that 99% of the population isn’t very bright and has far less to contribute, we are at risk of ignoring incredible talents.

Just imagine how much poorer theatres on either side of the Atlantic would be had the elite followed their inclinations and gently steered William Shakespeare, August Wilson and many other working-class or lower-middle-class geniuses away from our community.

Having imagined it, and understood how much our lives would have lost, we should look to the future and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the next generation of budding superstars from missing out.