The Good Fight star Cush Jumbo has backed efforts to make theatre fairer for people with children, arguing that parents risk being forced out of the industry if they are not properly supported.
Jumbo, who gave birth to her first child in April, emphasised the importance of making theatre “family friendly” in all facets of work, rather than deploying standalone tactics.
She told The Stage: “It’s about finding a way to make the work atmosphere family friendly, so that it’s not just working around a creche, but we are asking things like, are these hours appropriate? Is this pay appropriate? Is there any way we can subsidise things?”
Jumbo’s stage credits include Common at the National Theatre, the all-female Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse, and her self-written one-woman play, Josephine and I.
She was speaking as she hosted The Stage Debut Awards in London, which support emerging talent in theatre. Jumbo argued that more still needs to be done to help people establish lasting careers.
“The idea of being a jobbing actor and going between jobs these days can be daunting, but also depressing when you realise how many jobs you have to work on the side. It is really about finding ways that we can help people that are coming up, to remain coming up and not just fall by the wayside because they can’t get childcare, or financial support, or they can’t get themselves to an audition,” she said.
Jumbo added that cuts to the arts had generated “a lot of financial problems”, which could mean the industry loses “a generation of artists” if they are not supported.
While advocating for further progress for parents in particular, she said she felt change is happening within British theatre, and efforts should be “admired and cheered on”.
“It is about keeping the conversation going, but I certainly feel that we are getting more ahead of the game in terms of being family friendly in British theatre,” she said.
Last week, Equity launched what it described as an ambitious pay claim for the West End, which aims to promote job shares and flexible working, to bring about “progressive change” for parents and carers.