Equity is being urged to open up its membership to include dramaturgs in order to offer them protection from underpayment and exploitation.
Theatre critic and dramaturg Laura Kressly is behind the drive, which will see a motion put forward at Equity’s Annual General Meeting in London on March 4 calling on the union to expand its membership.
Kressly told The Stage: “As recent as 2015, research indicates that half of all directors earn less than £5,000 a year.
“This is despite the role of the director being widely known and utilised within the industry.
“The role of the dramaturg, particularly in a freelance capacity, is less understood because it has a huge variation in practice across theatre and dance. This makes dramaturgs ripe for underpayment and exploitation, particularly if this is already happening to people whose roles are more clearly defined and recognised.”
Kressly said that while the Dramaturgs’ Network provides support for dramaturgs, it does not have the same powers as a union.
She added: “Freelance dramaturgs deserve union representation just as much as any other freelance creative does.
“Though there isn’t the history of dramaturgy in the same way there is in the rest of Europe, dramaturgs are being used more often and should be protected.”
Equity has been contacted for comment.