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Rupert Goold: directing is at risk of becoming a “middle class plaything”

Rupert Goold has warned that directors' pay is so low that it is at risk of becoming a "middle-class plaything". Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith
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Rupert Goold has hit out at directors’ pay levels, claiming the profession is at risk of becoming a “middle class plaything” unless the situation is changed.

The Made in Dagenham director, speaking to The Stage after the show’s official opening last week, said attitudes towards the profession needed to change, and added that more needed to be done to ensure a cross-section of people could work in the sector.

Goold, who is also artistic director at the Almeida Theatre, London, said: “I think directors’ pay is a scandal, a complete scandal. And I wish at the Almeida we could pay people more. I remember Sam Mendes saying a while ago that if he did three shows at the Royal Shakespeare Company or in the Olivier [at the National Theatre] he would earn 15 grand a year, which is less than a box office assistant. We have to address that.”

Goold also admitted that he would not have been able to become a director had his parents not lived in London when he graduated.

“I would not have been be able to afford it,” he said. “I graduated and stayed at home – on and off for three or four years – and I hated it. I love my parents but it was hard work. People just can’t afford to do it now. And I graduated in a time when student debt was not so heavy either.

“If we want directing not to be a middle class plaything – God forbid – then we do have to find a way of getting more understanding of the importance of directors and of nurturing emerging directors.”

Goold follows Marianne Elliott in speaking out about directors’ pay.

Earlier this year, Elliott said that women in particular found it difficult to pursue careers in directing because of the low pay. She said: “If you are a female with children you just won’t do it, as you can’t afford the childcare.”

New trade body Stage Directors UK is conducting a survey of directors’ pay, in an effort to better understand what most directors earn.

Goold admitted he had not yet signed up to SDUK, but would be doing so, now that Made in Dagenham has opened.

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