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Directors should schedule rehearsals in advance to help working parents, says Tamara Harvey

Theatr Clwyd artistic director Tamara Harvey
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Theatr Clwyd artistic director Tamara Harvey has called on directors to schedule rehearsals in advance to accommodate working parents.

Harvey said that releasing rehearsal times the evening before rehearsals made life “incredibly difficult” and expensive for parents who have to organise childcare.

The comments were made during a platform at the National Theatre in London, chaired by theatre critic Fiona Mountford, alongside writer Laura Wade. The panel was discussing the production Home, I’m Darling, which Harvey directs.

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She said: “We are an industry that traditionally sends out the rehearsal call for the next day. I think the Equity rule is you have to do it by 6pm, and that makes life incredibly difficult as a working parent having to organise childcare.

“What you end up doing is having to cover all the time and then paying much more than you would need to, or your partner taking on much more than they would need to.”

Harvey added: “It is difficult, because it challenges what we think of as the creative impulse. What if we’re rehearsing a scene and we get to the end of the day and actually we just want to spend more time on that scene?

“You kind of have to take a deep breath and say it’s not about stifling creativity, it’s about working within these parameters.”

Harvey added that she endeavours to pre-plan rehearsals for all her productions, and had scheduled the entire five weeks of rehearsals for Home, I’m Darling in advance.

Wade echoed her comments, arguing that advance scheduling was also helpful for people with older parents or other caring responsibilities.

She added: “I remember Tamara saying, ‘Come and talk to us if there’s something you need us to work around, because we understand that you have a life’, and you can feel people take a breath of relief, because [that means] you don’t have to pretend that you don’t have a life and a partner and whatever else you’ve got going on.

“Being an artist does not mean that all of those people have to be ignored for the period the rehearsals and production are going on for.”

Harvey added: “Traditionally it’s almost been important to pretend you don’t [have a life outside theatre], as if you’re less of an artist if you’re not willing to stay till 1am.”

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