How to… avoid being exploited as a performer
1. Ask around
Word of mouth is always the best indicator of a company’s reputation. While you don’t want to take one person’s word, if you see a pattern of negative comments about a certain company or producer that’s a good indication there might be a problem.
2. Check with Equity
If Equity has information on a company, good or bad, it will happily let you know as a member. Of course, it can’t advise you on whether or not to take a job, but it will provide information on a company’s reputation.
3. Opt for an open-book policy
If you’re working on the fringe, you’ll find that an open-book policy for the company prevents some from profiting at the expense of others. It’s a good, ethical, transparent way of working. If a producer isn’t working on an open-book policy, it doesn’t mean you’re being exploited, but it is a good way of knowing how the budget is being spent. You wont find open books outside of the fringe. For more information on open-book producing, check out Rafe Beckley’s book, Open Book Theater Management: Ethical Theater Production, on Kindle.
4. Get a good agent/join a union
One of the best protections is having a good agent, and knowing that you have a union on your side is vital too. There is strength in numbers. You can find more data on Equity’s campaigns at www.equity.org.uk/campaigns.
5. Trust your gut
You can take advice from any number of people, but if a job doesn’t feel right don’t take it. Relationships between employees and their employers are always very personal, so if it doesn’t feel right for you don’t accept the job.