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How to… avoid being exploited as a performer

Photo: Doglikehorse/shutterstock.com Photo: Doglikehorse/shutterstock.com
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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.

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