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.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.