Thursday, 17 April 2014

Theatricals Assemble (That's Not My Job: Part Two)

I published my last blog post, 'That's Not My Job', on Thursday morning not long after I had woken up. I guess it was around 8 o'clock in the morning. I had submitted the brief column to 'The Stage' a couple of weeks previously but was still tweaking the final, full length version right up until I put it online. Once I had decided I was satisfied with it, I hit 'Publish' on my blog and then left to meet one of my company, Natasha. I am currently on quite a long tour and last week, when 'That's Not My Job' went out, we were in Aylesbury. I had purposefully asked Natasha to do a long run with me that morning so that once the article was online, I would not be around to see the immediate reaction. It would only take one negative word for me to lose my nerve and delete it, so I decided that I needed to put it out there for a while and not hover over it, refreshing the counter and waiting for a response.

I was genuinely quite nervous. 

Not only of what people would say, but the fact that at 3,500 words, the blog was long. Longer than anything else I had written. And the content just wasn't funny.

It was not a theatrical anecdote.

Nor was it a spoof job application. 

It contained some of my very own thoughts and feelings and I felt quite wary of broadcasting them.

We ran for just over seven miles. Three and a half miles along the canal and then three and a half miles back. It took us an hour and ten minutes and we talked all the way, keeping a steady and consistent rhythm with each other. We ran past swans and ducks and said 'Morning' to other runners and dog walkers. Natasha knew that I was slightly jittery about the post so we talked about anything other than that; the Haruki Murakami book I was reading, the snakes she had encountered in South Africa, our siblings, our chocolate bar of choice, my irrational fear of cows, Canada. 

Anything really. 

When we got back we made a beeline for the Waitrose which is right next to the theatre. The sweat on our faces was drying to a salty grit and the muscles in our legs were feeling worked and heavy but awake. Fresh blood was flowing straight from my heart and my mind was in the midst of a post exercise high. We grabbed coffees and decided to share a hot cross bun and went outside to stretch. 

Well, Natasha stretched. I sat in the grass with my feet together, half heartedly pushing my knees to the dewy ground and checking my phone.

'Anything?' enquired Natasha.

'Its okay' I said, 'Nobody seems to hate me.'

I have to say, I was pretty surprised. In the hour that I had been pounding down the canal, scaring the feathered wildlife and keeping my breath steady enough to hold a conversation, the blogpost (I do feel a dick saying 'article' or 'piece') had been tweeted and shared a lot more than I had expected. Nobody was bored or horrified, just nice and supportive.

After our stretch, I walked back to my digs and received two messages from good friends of mine, Lisa and Amy, about five minutes apart. And they both basically said this;

'Let us know what we can do to help.'

As I walked I kind of frowned to myself. Help? What the fuck do they mean help? Help who do what? Are they worried I am going to need support in case of a backlash? What exactly is it they think I need help with? I've written the post and expressed my thoughts and then hopefully it will start a debate.

What else do they think I'm going to fucking do?

As the day continued, the number of hits it was getting rose at a steady pace. People were commenting on the piece itself and most people were supportive and in agreement. A lot of people had interesting opinions I had not even considered. Someone pointed out that American theatres charge an awful lot more for theatre tickets and so are in a better position to pay more staff which is something that hadn't even crossed my mind when I wrote it. People also expressed how they had tried to tackle the problem in their venues, and some people told me how they couldn't work in backstage theatre any more and were leaving. I heard from a lot of costume/wardrobe people about how much the lack of breaks affected them and also from American stage hands who told me about their experiences when they had come to work in the UK.

However, my favourite comment was probably this.

'Oh shut up.'

After 'My Application to be Artistic Director of the National Theatre' spread widely, I learnt pretty quick that even if you are just trying to make a joke or write something humorous, there would always be people who wanted to take offence, so I wasn't that surprised to have negativity. Another person wrote a lengthy comment about the post and how I just needed to accept it as part of the job. People said 'things will never change'. And I stopped and carefully considered all of these responses in the exact same way that I responded to the positive ones. I didn't want to ignore them and tried to use the way that they challenged me to improve my argument.

By Friday night I had gained 200 followers on Twitter and had been sent more tweets than I could reply to. My Inbox on Facebook still had a number of unread messages and there were lengthy comments on the post. I was trying to read them all as fastidiously as possible but you have to remember I am currently working and my week involves matinees, understudy rehearsals and evening shows. Sometimes I was only able to skim over all these messages. But I could see that not only were people showing their support by coming up with suggestions or tales of their own experiences, they were also starting to ask questions. 

'Do you think the buy out contract is working?'

'What exactly is the difference between ITC, SOLT and TMA?'

'I am on tour and we don't get a dinner break or overtime on matinee days. Is that allowed?'

'Can you tell me what the tinted moisturiser is that you use as my skin can't take a foundation?'  

'Are you really 31?'

I think I can only answer the last two confidently.

It's from 'Benefit'. Twenty seven quid but lasts for a year. And yes, I am. Although at this stage I felt about fifteen.

Interestingly, Equity also tweeted the link which I took as a sign that they know something is not right and that they did not just think I was a grumpy stage manager with a chip on my shoulder. I also got a message from one of the Equity councillors who said that they were looking at the issues that arose within stage management and would be interested to hear any suggestions from either myself or other stage managers. It was at this point it struck me that having voiced the issue and gained the support, simply walking away from it was not the right thing to do. All these new followers, these messages, these tweets.... I felt like a lot of people were saying 'Okay, yep. We agree with you. We support you. Now what?'

So on Saturday morning I started to look at the various contracts and concentrated mostly on the ITC. I found myself skimming it is as the vast majority of it seems to be aimed at actors and there is very little mention of stage management. I have even worked for small companies who do not operate on an Equity contract but still issue separate contracts for stage managers and actors. 

Which makes sense. 

We have a totally different skill set so why are we all signing ourselves to the same thing?

It was when I tried to make comparisons to the other contracts that I felt like I was hitting a very solid and high wall. I couldn't make sense of any of it and there were clauses and statements that I just didn't understand. I flopped back onto my digs bed, groaning, and wondered why the hell I had started this in the first place. And it was while I lay there on a lumpy bed, in someone's cluttered spare room, looking at a ceiling which held the childhood stickers of someone who was now probably about forty two, that I started to feel exactly the same way I did last summer. 

When 'My Application for Artistic Director of the National Theatre' came out. 

I wrote about the whole experience in 'Planet Futon' and suddenly all of those old feelings were coming back. It's very strange to write something that is then read and discussed by so many people. Initially there is a feeling of overwhelming jubilation and a thrill to get your voice heard by so many, but it doesn't take long before that is replaced by a slightly suffocating feeling of solitude. It's odd as I am not usually a person who experiences the emotion of loneliness. Not only do I surround myself with friends and family, but I am usually pretty happy in my own company and alone with my own thoughts. I suppose that working in theatre is usually so much about being in a team. But this blog is something that I do by myself.

It's just me.

My thoughts. 

My feelings. 

It's not even like my column in 'The Stage where someone can edit me. 

So if ever there are any repercussions because of something I have written, it is solely my responsibility.

So whilst I lay on this alien bed, once again feeling like it was breaking off into a separate orbit, several thoughts went through my head.

Why have I done this again?

Why am I always on fucking tour when this fucking happens?

But most importantly,

I need help.

And it was at this point that I remembered those text messages from my friends. I couldn't help but grin as I sat up and seized my phone.

Friends are just brilliant, aren't they? Lisa and Amy had offered me what I needed a whole 48 hours before I realised I even needed it.


For the rest of the day my mind was taken up with two shows and a Get Out, and on Sunday I travelled back to London to witness friends run the Marathon. As I stood on the pavement whooping for strangers in costumes and scanning the sweating mob for familiar faces, I received another message. This message came from a producer who runs a small but very successful theatre company which tours and also stages productions at London venues. She said that she would be interested to talk to me about my blog as her company always paid overtime and endeavoured to schedule in adequate breaks, and that sometimes it was quite a shock to see larger companies not doing the same. I was really happy to get a message like that from this particular producer as I hold so much respect for her, and I was equally encouraged to discover that even small companies were taking these issues into consideration. 

Maybe it was being at the marathon, watching all these strangers moving together towards one goal, that I started to realise something. 

I couldn't just use the help of other stage managers. 

It wasn't going to be enough. 

I needed the help and input from other people from other aspects of the profession. As much as we all think that we know about other departments (everyone in this industry seems to believe they are an expert on marketing) we really, truly don't.

I have no idea about all these different contracts and the various pressures of running a theatre company. And as great as it is to come up with all these ideas and theories, I don't really know if they would solve the problems. Just as it is important to have someone go 'Yes, you're right', it is also just as necessary to have someone say 'no, that wouldn't actually work because.....'

As I headed back to Leytonstone and let myself into the little flat with the sky blue door, I started to feel a bit like one of those characters in a Marvel comic, who gathers the most appropriate super heroes for their strength and various skills.

Theatricals Assemble.

I think the movie would be intensely dull. But very well organised with good stationery and cake.

I proposed to the producer that we meet and discuss the issues outlined in the blog with myself and other stage managers and she enthusiastically agreed. She even offered her theatre company's headquarters as a venue. I decided at this point to recruit another producer and got in contact with the woman I actually mentioned in the blog who had worked with me to come to an arrangement about my tech week hours. Again, she was completely up for it and I started to feel upbeat and positive about the whole thing for the very first time.

'Girl In The Dark' was no longer just me. I had people. 

We were people.

So now I have Lisa, Amy, two producers and also John, a West End stage manager. I think that is enough for now. Any more and I don't think the conversations will work. We have a date and a time and a meeting place.

And we are going to talk.

I want to go to Equity and I want to go with sensible and achievable ideas that I have discussed with producers, and maybe soon directors. I want to discuss the contractual issues that people are facing and I want to raise awareness about the issues of over worked stage managers. I am hearing about accidents and exhaustion and I don't think it is right.

The other night as I slugged down a post-dinner glass of Shiraz, I received a tweet from a director saying that he knew he was guilty of what I had written about and would 'try harder'. I gulped down the dregs of my glass and slurred 'if I can change at least one person's mind then all this is worth while.'

The next morning, when I woke up, I realised I sounded like a right tosser so I'm not going to say that ever again. But you get the idea.

I'm not starting a battle or picking a fight with anybody. Nobody is the enemy as far as I am concerned. I think that this is the sort of issue that can be resolved if people work together and come to some understanding and compromise. 

If there is a reason why we can't have separate contracts to cast members, then fine. 

If there is absolutely no way that backstage teams can have the breaks they are entitled to, then fine.

Explain it to me and educate me as I truly want to learn. 

But if there isn't a valid reason, then let's move forward and create a contract designed for and tailored to the needs of the backstage team.

It's not about attacking anybody or placing blame. As a lot of the comments on my blog state, a large number of backstage staff have had the experience that if you point out the issues in a reasonable manner, people can be be very accommodating.

I'm also not proposing a situation like in the US. Having a million different people for each individual job probably wouldn't work here. We don't have the money. And as much as I want conditions to be better, I am also aware that overly strict regulations could destroy companies starting out.

The Edinburgh Fringe, which we all know is run on beer and love, would collapse. And that is one of the things I want to discuss with my wonderful group. How we can change and develop without just making things difficult for everybody. 

At the moment, that really is all we are going to be doing. Talking. Brainstorming. Maybe nothing will come of it and maybe things will continue just as they are. I don't know enough about the goals and possibilities to work out how achievable they are. So maybe this focus group won't amount to anything. But I'm not ready to believe that. Not just yet.

So there you go.

That's what I have been doing since the blog came out. It's not what I planned to do and every now and again I feel very far out of my comfort zone. I have never considered myself to be political (that is the dinner party conversation I always shy away from) and I don't believe I am savvy or knowledgable when it comes to this sort of thing. I mean, I really didn't plan this. 

It just kind of happened.

And just like last Thursday morning, I feel apprehensive and nervous and vulnerable and I'm  wondering what people are going to say. Will people even care? 

Maybe not.

But I do want to at least try.

So what am I going to do now?


I'm going to go for a very, very long run.

Thank you, so much, for reading this. 

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Thank you again.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

That's Not My Job

‘That’s not my job.’

Yep, I’ve said it.

Or mumbled it.

Or maybe just thought it.

There has been many a tech period when I have sighed, exasperated, at the fact that I am being asked to do something which I firmly do not believe is my responsibility, and muttered the words of the aggravated stage manager. More and more in the UK theatre industry, especially London,  we are finding ourselves in situations where we are working on a show as a stage management team of one and expected to perform the skills of wardrobe mistresses, technicians, production managers and assistant directors. And I know that most of us have the attitude that if nobody else is going to do it then we had better just crack on, but still with those words going round and round our heads.

‘That’s not my job.’

But when I recently went and worked in New York, I found myself having to deal with a totally different issue that was, at first, just as frustrating.

‘That’s not your job.’

As soon as we arrived at the theatre in the Big Apple, it became very clear that the US theatrical unions were very different to ours. I’m sure that a lot of you have already experienced the logistics of working in US venues or have at least heard about it. If it’s not in your department then you are just not allowed near it. Any object not stage management related quickly became like Kryptonite to my ASM and I. We weren’t allowed to touch costumes, mic stands, things with plugs on or large bits of set. Even putting down spike marks on the stage became quite a complex activity with certain staff members required and protocol to be followed.

In England, there had just been the two of us backstage. Charlie, my ASM, dealt with radio mics, props and quick changes whilst I called the lights and operated AV. Once we had crossed the Atlantic however, every small backstage task seemed to require an additional crew member. An actor would exit the stage and usually just be greeted by Charlie who would check their mic, give them a prop and chuck a cardigan on them. But now they were being greeted by three different people which took some getting used to.

I did find this occasionally frustrating and felt that it over complicated things. But that was nothing compared to the dinner breaks.

In the UK we typically have an hour plus thirty minutes to allow actors in and out of costume. They had 90 minutes in the US also, but the reason for this was so that the crew had time to get down from their positions, eat their dinner, and then also have time to prepare to continue the tech.

I was very much struck by this as it really showed who was in the position of power. During the tech it was the backstage team who determined when breaks were taken, and the cast and even the director were powerless to disagree. There was just never a question of anyone working through their dinner break as the stage had to be cleared. And absolutely no mention of things like ‘well let’s just get to the end of this scene?’ or ‘do the crew mind missing a tea break?’

At first I genuinely found the system obstructive as I felt that I could occasionally have made up time by doing the odd jobs in my breaks, just as I would in the UK. But it simply wasn’t allowed. How many of us have felt compelled to work through a break to ensure that we are ready for a dress or a first preview? And how many of us have done it with no extra pay and, let’s face it, a rumbling stomach?

If I’m being completely honest I don’t think I have ever turned around and refused to miss a dinner break. I worry far too much about looking reluctant, lazy or uncaring. And I do always want the piece to run smoothly and feel it is my responsibility to ensure that.

But I do get annoyed that there now seems to be an expectance that backstage departments will work, unpaid, through dinner breaks. Often without the issue being properly confronted. It seems to be quite rare that somebody will say ‘Well to achieve this you will need to miss a break. Is that okay?’

One day in America, after the tech had been suddenly halted by the crew for a dinner break, I chatted with one of the guys about their breaks and how sometimes I found it could be a hindrance.  As CSM I was starting to worry that we just weren’t going to be ready in time for the first preview. His response?

‘We don’t do it to be difficult. We do it because it enforces good management.’

And he was right.

The producers/directors had to schedule in enough time for a tech (plus dinner breaks) and they had to employ the adequate amount of staff as there was no possibility of people performing several roles. The result of this, I have to admit, was a fresh and able crew who were always well rested, prepared and, most importantly willing.

So why, in the UK, are we still feeling obliged to work through our breaks unpaid?

If I am working on a contract where I am getting paid overtime, I will happily, gleefully, fill out my time sheet and put down every single missed meal break, every additional hour and every infringed overnight break. And I also do the work willingly. I may be tired, stressed and hungry. But I am also comforted by the knowledge that I am being rewarded. When I get my payslip the following week it makes all that extra work worthwhile and I am happy that I can use that extra cash by pushing up the numbers on my savings account or paying off that extra bit of my tax bill.

(I’m clearly kidding. Overtime means hitting the Benefit counter in Boots and stocking up on their over priced yet miracle tinted moisturiser.)

But sadly these contracts which offer overtime seem to be dwindling and a lot of London theatres do not offer these rewards. A lot of contracts I am working these days are straight buy outs.

Which is fine.

But the expectation that we will carry on working these hours regardless seems to remain.

And, personally, I do not think this is fine.

But how do we deal with this?

I have been in so many situations during a tech week where, for example, an hour’s break is scheduled between the end of the tech and the first dress. Or there will be notes onstage up until an hour before the half. But how exactly is that supposed to work? How exactly are the backstage department expected to take their break and be set up and ready for the performance in that one single, solitary hour?

So then you are left with a choice. Do you make a stand? Do you leave the building completely and take your hour’s break? Do you sit in the green room in full view of everybody, stubbornly eating your Pret a Manger salad and pointedly ignoring all show related questions? Or do you work, unpaid, and ensure that the production is ready. But feel short changed.

Because, as a stage manager, that is ‘your job’.

When I am in these situations I feel that, more often than not, there is a real expectation that the stage management team will do the dutiful ‘above and beyond’ thing. That we will work constantly and forgo these breaks and do it without complaint. But it feels that so many of us have been doing this ‘by whatever means necessary’ routine for so long that it isn’t even exceptional anymore. I have been in techs where the issue of dinner breaks for the stage management team, technicians and crew is not even discussed. And that if you choose to do something as outrageous as take the dinner break you are entitled to, you are being difficult or lazy.

Let’s be honest. You are in a situation of high pressure and high stress and everyone, including you, wants the show to be the absolute best it can be. So if you sit down and refuse to work for a whole sixty minutes do you look heroic? Do you look empowered and brave and stoic and unflinching?


You look like a cunt.

And this situation doesn’t just apply to tech weeks. Even in the early stages of rehearsals I have found myself feeling unable to take lunch breaks; if you are a DSM and a lunchtime production meeting occurs, it is sometimes impossible to get someone to sit in for you in the afternoon so that you can take that much needed lunch break later. And directors have sometimes made it very clear to me that they want the same stage manager in the rehearsal room throughout the day so cover is not an option.

Also how many times have you heard this;

‘Okay, so let’s take an hour for lunch and when we come back we will go straight into a full run through of the play.’


So I need to be set up and be totally ready for a run through? And that is going to take me, what, half an hour? Forty five minutes? The full hour? And then I need to stay focussed for blocking, prompting, sound operating etc on an empty stomach and with no time to breathe.

I see.

But again, what is your option?

Well, luckily, some directors are aware of these issues and will allow time for pre-sets etc. I always love it when a director puts in time for a pre-run company warm up which allows the stage manager time to eat and take a full break as well as get set up and ready.

But I think it is a shame that stage managers do not feel as if they can confront some directors and ask for the time it takes to set up for a run plus the full dinner break.

And, personally, I take rehearsal room run-throughs incredibly seriously. Just as actors need to warm up/prepare/get into the zone, we stage managers also want to check, double check and feel ready for a run-though as, believe it or not, we really understand the importance of them and feel the pressure just as much as the creatives.

These dinner breaks which we are supposed to take are not just about food or the much desired coffee.

They are about being able to leave the room and leave the building.

Being able to take in fresh, un-conditioned air.

Sending a text or email that is not related to work.

Having a poo.

As a DSM, sitting on your bum all day staring at the script and constantly rubbing out and re-writing blocking is very tiring. However much I love a play, the words can start to jump off the page and float around the expanse of white as I struggle with weariness. I get envious of watching other people moving around the room whilst I sit, unmoving, at my desk.

There is a fringe venue in London which I work at fairly regularly and absolutely adore. It holds a very special place in my heart and I truly respect all of the people who work there. It does a lot of new writing which is my favourite type of theatre to work on (mostly because you get your name in the published script) and the sets and designs are always very ambitious on tight budgets. I always go home from a Press Night feeling elated by what I have achieved, and proud of the work that we have produced on a small budget.


I did once work out the hours that I had worked during a tech week and then divided my weekly wage by that number.

It didn’t even cover the National Minimum Wage.

When they asked me to return for a fourth production I asked to speak with the producer about this issue and showed them my calculations. We spoke very frankly about the problem and how exasperating it was to work a normal week and get paid a set amount of money, and then work ridiculously hard yet still get paid the same small amount. Obviously the small venue did not have the resources to pay me the overtime that I was working during busy periods. But they were willing to discuss a compromise.

So they agreed that during tech weeks I would get paid a set bonus, regardless of how much overtime I did. Okay, it was not anywhere near the amount I would have been paid had I filled out a timesheet and detailed every infringement of the contract, but it was enough to make me feel that all that extra work was being acknowledged in some small way.

And I really want to express just how grateful I am that we came to that conclusion and that the theatre was listening to my point of view and working with me to make the situation better. In the future I would hate to lose out on work simply because people considered me difficult or demanding.

‘Jess Gow? Oh yeah I’ve worked with her before. She’s okay as a stage manager but can be pretty unreasonable. Sometimes she insists that she… you know…. eats and stuff.’

I have also done the tours when, during the interview, the twenty two year old Producer who sits before me, twiddling her hair and tapping on a Mac, proudly tells told me that there is a set ‘company wage’ and that the actors and stage management are all on the same wage.

Because, apparently, that’s ‘fair’. And means that everybody in the company is equal.



During one of these tours I would arrive at the venue every Monday morning at 9 am to do the get-in, wash costumes and buy food for the show. It was rare that I would get a lunch break due to the nature of the performance although I would always ensure the in-house crew got a break. During the afternoon we would continue to focus lights and be ready for the cast arriving around four pm. They would tech various elements of the show before breaking at 5.30pm whilst I did the pre-set.

Then for the rest of the week, as company stage manager, I would be arriving at the venue at about 3.00pm for laundry duties, tour admin, petty cash etc before getting ready for the performance, which obviously I had cues during.


You take this ‘company wage’ and you divide it by the amount of hours the actors do.

And then you take the exact same ‘company wage’ and you divide it by the hours that I do.

And then you tell me that this is ‘equal’ and ‘fair’.

I asked people on Twitter about this issue of taking breaks and, as usual, was presented with a lot of responses from a lot of different people. Most folk, including directors and actors, agreed, that people are far more productive when taking the allotted tea breaks and dinner breaks. Fatigued and irritable cast and crew are less likely to produce good work.

A well respected director tweeted me this;

‘As a director I rely on the SM to tell me we need breaks. They aren’t being difficult. It’s vital. Everyone needs breaks.’

Somebody else tweeted me that, when working as an assistant director, they had realised that once calls and notes were done, the DSM was working 12 hours a day as a matter of course. And again, I was reminded by the fact that not everyone is aware that a DSM’s day of work does not just end when rehearsals end.

Another stage manager tweeted saying that he was sometimes happy to work through these dinner breaks but only if people are recognising the extra work as nobody likes to feel as though they are being used.

Sadly I had some rather unsettling direct messages from stage managers saying that, in the past, they had decided that enough was enough and claimed a dinner break. But been told that it ‘was their job’ and that on a buy-out contract, they had no right to complain.

When I asked whether people would state ‘no pay, no way’ when it came to skipping dinners, or if they would carry on yet feeling exhausted and disgruntled, a director I know asked if there was something in between this. A happy medium.  And personally, I believe there could be. And this is the conversation that I want to open up.

I genuinely don’t believe that enough producers or directors are aware of these issues and I want to write this so that more people do know and can take these things into consideration when planning rehearsals or tech periods. Especially the venues which are providing buy out contracts.

Maybe these theatres need to start making a choice. Either your have a buy out contract and accept that the SM will take breaks which may have an impact on the production and schedule accordingly. Or have SM teams who work whatever is asked of them but with the overtime being paid to them.

And I also want people to know that in other places in the world, like the States, it is not considered acceptable for people to work consistently without the adequate breaks. And that producers/directors are forced to approach the issue and schedule in adequate time. Otherwise the crews there just stop and there is nothing you can do about it. Maybe we can discuss the issue before it gets to a point where crew/stage managers/wardrobe mistresses are just downing tools and it starts to truly damage the final product.

Of course, the blatant ignorance of rules and regulations does not just apply to backstage. There has been many a time when I have been aware that actors are being asked to work way beyond their remit, especially during previews when the usual rule of ‘ninety minutes before the half’ seems to go completely out of the window.

On one occasion I was in a notes session just before a second preview. Myself and the actors had been rehearsing all day, and had a show to do that night. We should have finished at 5.30pm but it got to 6.00pm and the director showed no sign of letting up, clearly in a zone and wanting to give the all- important notes. Any mention from me about needing to finish had been met with an irritable and snappy ‘Yes, I KNOW Jess. I know. But we need to do these notes.’

So I gave up. The actors had seen that I had tried and what else could I do?

We continued for a while. But then at 6.05pm, one of the older male cast members stood up and solemnly declared;

‘We need to break now.’

And so we did.

That was all that was needed.

It just took one more person to make that stand and then the director had to admit that the break needed to be taken. When this actor made this statement I had shrugged at the director as if to say ‘what can you do?’

Although in my head I was thinking ‘WHOOOOOOO!!! YOU GO, MAN!!! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!’

That really is all it took. Just that one other voice, along with mine, to say, ‘No. We stop now.’

I started in this profession when I was 18 years old and was pretty content to work the extra hours and skip the usual breaks, so eager to impress and be congratulated.

But now, at thirty one, I am less willing to work extra hours with no recognition. And a nice message in a Press Night card is not adequate payment. I know that other people, too many people, feel the same way and want something to be done about it. Equity has created and stated these rules and regulations so why do we keep ignoring them?

Someone needs to take a stand. But who? Exactly whose job is it to make sure that we are no longer exploited?

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

That’s not my job.

It’s not your job either.

It’s our job.




Thanks as always for reading these ramblings. You have no idea how much I appreciate all of your support and the only reason I now have a column in ‘The Stage’ is because of all of the lovely people who read and share my writing. So thank you very much.

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