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West End pay is still unfair – your views, June 20

Stage manager at work. Photo: Alex Brenner
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I welcome positive changes to the Equity agreement. But I’d still like to see a change in the unfair tier structure in payments for the same job roles in different venues.

It shouldn’t matter what the capacity of a theatre is when it comes to determining salaries for people who do the same job. It’s illogical that an assistant stage manager can be paid more than a stage manager and a deputy stage manager who happen to be working in a different theatre but on the same contract. It fails to fairly acknowledge experience and responsibilities. As I’ve progressed from an ASM to DSM over the years, I have taken a pay cut. It makes no sense.

Helen Clarkson
Via Facebook

West End deal secures 9% pay rise and paves the way for flexible working


It is good news regarding pay. The pay comparison for the same roles on Broadway are vastly different. When I played a main role in a West End musical, my weekly wage was poor. In fact, when I reprised the role in a European arena tour I got the same per show as I received per week in the West End. How on earth is this correct and balanced?

When audience members pay a premium for West End tickets and performers work towards being in the West End for many years, why do we often have to teach and do other jobs in the daytime to subsidise our living costs? I have worked in musical theatre for 21 years and my lowest paid jobs have been West End musicals. This is not right or fair or balanced. People spend their lives training and aspiring to be in West End musicals – the wage does not reflect the success. Unless you are a TV name of course – that’s where the money goes.

Lee Bright
Via Facebook

Helpful advice for interviews

This interesting article about what the industry wants from musical theatre graduates, included lots of different people’s opinions that pretty much all agree with each other.

You could remove “musical theatre” from the title and it would apply to any recruiter/interviewee situation, graduates or otherwise.

I was once told: “A job interview is just another business conversation between two equal parties. Both are trying to establish whether the other has side what they are looking for.” It was excellent advice that I’ve passed on at every opportunity.

Peter Kettle
Via thestage.co.uk

What does the industry want from musical theatre graduates?

Evening Standard losing critics is sign of times

Regrettable as it is, the current disposal of skilled theatre critics is a symptom of modern newspaper life, with circulation dwindling so that proprietors cut expenditure as and where they can.

Alas, the technical expertise of gifted critics whose raison d’être is theatre, will never be adequately replaced by ad hoc substitution.

Russell Schofield
Via thestage.co.uk

Theatre critics Henry Hitchings and Fiona Mountford lose Evening Standard roles in ‘cost-cutting’ drive

Praise for Piazza understudy

During this afternoon’s performance of The Light in the Piazza at the Southbank Centre, understudy Molly Lynch took the part of Clara Johnson at an hour’s notice as the result of Dove Cameron’s throat problems. Molly, and the principal Renée Fleming, rightly received a standing ovation at the end of a wonderful show – and for me, there was the added bonus of Fleming signing my programme afterwards.

DJ Savage
Via email

Rutherford and Son history

The review of Rutherford and Son was incorrect in saying it was last revived four decades before the National Theatre production in the 1990s.

The play was rediscovered in 1980 and performed Upstairs at The Royal Court where I saw it. I believe it then went on a national tour.

It’s a pity that this part of the play’s history seems to be overlooked.

Susan McGoun
Via Email

Rutherford and Son review at National Theatre, London – ‘a strongly performed revival’

Actors want to do unpaid work

Too many Equity members are willing to undermine action on unpaid work. Without a proper framework in place, it’s impossible to do much to stop actors being used, or rather stopping actors allowing themselves to be used.

We have to distinguish between the perfectly genuine collaboration projects and those that just claim to be. There are too many actors who want to take no-pay jobs, even those knowing there should be a proper pay rate.

Mark Kempner
Via Facebook

Performers urged to report unpaid jobs advertised on social media as Equity ramps up campaign

Thank you

May I thank The Stage for the humbling profile by Nick Higham and the nice follow up letter from Alexander Jules. And indeed, all those who have responded to my retirement.

Robert Breckman
Address supplied

Theatre accountant Robert Breckman: ‘Actors are all mad as hatters. And so am I’


Quotes of the week

Mark Cornell
Mark Cornell

“We need to rally together, unite our forces and champion our industry as a whole. We need to put theatre at the heart of popular culture, where it belongs. Its reach should extend way beyond the culture pages of broadsheets. We should be sparking and fuelling conversations in playgrounds and around water coolers.” Ambassador Theatre Group’s chief executive Mark Cornell (speaking at UK Theatre’s Theatre and Touring Symposium)

“I can’t sing. The only time I’ve ever sung was with the Muppets, which gives you a rough idea of what they think of me.” Actor Michael Caine (Smooth Radio)

“It’s interesting having children in the audience. They are the toughest to please; if they are not interested, you know right away. They look around, they make noise. But it’s very rewarding when you can get them to concentrate and absorb the narrative.” Choreographer Arthur Pita (Times)

“At no time did I stand in the first day of rehearsal of a play and have anyone say to me: ‘Could you do what you did in that last play, just do it here?’ Which is what Hollywood’s all about. ‘Do you have a brand yet? Do you have an image yet? Can you play to that? Don’t deviate from that, it’s not why we hired you.’” Actor Jeff Daniels (Time magazine)

“I would love to feel that I was in a situation where I could choose, but that’s not the way it works. I do try to think if I can afford not to do something I don’t want to do, and if I can, then I don’t do it. But the consequence of that is that you can be unemployed, it can make you feel ghastly, because you wonder if you will ever work again. It’s worrying and frightening. Just because I’m older, I’m not ready to ease off. I’m interested, I want to do stuff.” Actor Lesley Sharp (Guardian)


Email your views to alistair@thestage.co.uk. Please mark your email as ‘for publication’. The Stage reserves the right to edit letters for publication.

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