Small Scale Theatre - UK Feed

Equity@Edinburgh 2009: Your voice, Your chance

Equity@EdinburghEquity is in Edinburgh from Aug 24 - 29...The Facebook group

The most important session for practitioners to influence their sector is on 27/08/09 Working in Independent Theatre – the Essentials - 1400-1600 Free (ticketed) at Festival Theatre, 13-19 Nicholson Street (venue 244).


Sadly it will be the least well attended. Social Media has no visibility in the ITC (Independent Theatre Council) contract or the Fringe contract at present I would like to see that change.

For example
  • Enabling audiences to share and promote our productions with targeted material.
  • Payments for Live Streamed performances.
  • Guidelines to protect copyright using more flexible CC creative commons licenses
  • Guidelines for online conduct within social media for company members

Please find time to fit this one in your diary. You do not have to be an equity member or working or ever worked on an ITC contract. Come and share your concerns, experiences and needs for a theatre contract for digital age.

I will be there.
Caron

Living wage in the West End?

How can anyone live and support themselves on £381 a week before tax and NI in London?
Equity are campaigning hard and negotiating harder for Actors and Stage Managers through out the West End who are engaged on Equity contracts. Exclusive news reported in The Stage is the beginning of a public media awareness of wages for theatre workers in the UK. Did you know they were paid so little? This is if they are on a union negotiated contract at all. So many theatre workers because of the working hours or just low rates of pay are working for less than minimum wage.

Exclusive: West End performers are willing to take industrial action if London theatre managers do not agree to a 44% minimum wage hike being demanded by Equity.

The trade union is currently pushing for the existing basic pay rate for actors working in the West End to increase from £381 per week to £550. A new second minimum wage of £650 is also being sought for performers who are required to work on Sundays. To read the full article click here

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Unlimited Theatre

Edinburgh and beyond

I first blogged about Unlimited Theatre in my article Whirlwind Edinburgh pt 4. Well mentioned really. All I had time to do was embed a YouTube video, include a link to the Edinburgh Festival online program and a link to their website. Jon Spooner the Artistic Director and the Unlimited Theatre company are producing some fantastic work and his performed presentation about Quantum Physics, superpositioning and teleportation. Genius. Take a look at their YouTube archive and go see them. I can't wait for them to come to Nottingham one day. Or I'll track them down in Edinburgh this year. This YouTube collection gives you a glimpse in to the astonishing concepts Unlimited are tackling to make ground breaking and engaging theatre... The Ethic of Progress.


Theatre industry declares no confidence in Arts Council

I get so frustrated not being able to be at the heart of what makes me tick. This Arts Council fiasco would in the past have left all like me, either out of "town" or on the road, seething and blustering, quietly raging at our colleagues or mumbling on the tour bus at the injustice and the nerve of it all and the... well, a good stomp around the building, the kicking of the odd flat, the rough man handling of a light or two and stubbed fingers to boot before a pause for a well earned cup of tea before the half... ha ha.

Thank you Facebook. Well thank you active members of Facebook who are equally miffed at the current state of affairs in the arts. Since discovering the numerous Save our Theatre facebook groups and creating the Save theatre in the UK meta group it has been heartening to see the membership of these groups rocket. One group "Stop the Cull" is particularly impressive with 1,120 members. Some venues under threat have high sign up numbers. Derby Playhouse with 5,321 and Bristol Old Vic with 2,234 at the time of writing this blog entry.

This (below) is the press release from Equity published today following the much anticipated meeting at The Young Vic Theatre where nearly 500 people turned up meaning the event was standing room only. If you attended I'd like to thank you for representing me. I am sure that goes for the many performers, production creatives and theatre staff up and down the country who live by the adage "The show must go on". This is and will, I hope always be true. However we'd like to be able to feed our selves and keep a roof over our heads. This is hard enough without funding instability and cuts. Another blog entry for a later date I feel!

This response enlivens my sense of hope in my professions sense of self worth and a vigor to stand up and fight. Thank you again to everyone who added their physical presence to the meeting, even if you did have to stand!

The official Equity press release reads:

Image001_4 In a packed meeting at the Young Vic Theatre, London, today (9 January 2008) representatives from across the England’s theatre industry declared they had no confidence in the work of the Arts Council England (ACE) and its proposals to cut funding to more than 190 arts bodies from April this year.

The meeting, organised by Equity, was addressed by Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of ACE, but his attempts to explain the rationale behind the decisions taken by the funding body were rejected by an audience of almost 500 at the standing-room only event. The gathered audience of performers, creative workers and representatives from many of those theatres facing cuts were particularly angry about the very brief consultation period (just five weeks which included Christmas and New Year holidays), the secrecy with which the proposals had been produced and the failure of the Arts Council to make explicit the criteria by which some theatres had been chosen over others.

Amongst the speakers were actors Malcolm Sinclair, who criticised the culture of over-management of the arts, and Patrick Malahide who criticised ACE for lacking a coherent intellectual strategy and actor/director Sam West, who made an impassioned plea for a number of smaller companies whose work would be curtailed by these cuts.

Addressing the meeting, Christine Payne, General Secretary of Equity, welcomed the extra money the government had made available to the Arts Council over the next three years, but said:

“We have a right to know how that money is being spent. We are extremely concerned about how these decisions are being made. Who are the judges? And what criteria are being used? There appears to be a distinct and perhaps deliberate lack of involvement from professional theatre practitioners in the decisions process currently used by Arts Council England. The process is not open, it’s not transparent, there is no dialogue with the theatre community.”

“Unless Arts Council England not only listens to the concerns of people here today but actually takes action to respond to them then the credibility of Arts Council England could be fundamentally and possibly irreparably damaged. We demand a thorough review of the process and procedures used by the Arts Council in reaching funding decisions, and until that review is completed the status quo should apply and the current funding process should cease.”

The meeting ended with a vote of no confidence in the Arts Council England moved by veteran actress Miriam Karlin, which was passed unanimously.

For further information contact:

Martin Brown
Head of Communications and Membership Support
Equity, Guild House, Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9EG
T 020 7670 0259  F 020 7240 6341
E www.equity.org.uk  E www.tvischanging.com


Facebook People Power

Image001_3Happy New Year! Or not so happy if you're working for one of the nearly 200 regularly funded organisations who were told just before Christmas that their funding was going to be withdrawn from April 2008.

Equity have organised a meeting on Wednesday 9th January, 11 am, at the Young Vic which Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, will attend to explain the underlying rationale of the proposed cuts and to hear from Equity members what disquiet their proposals are causing. Read article in The Stage

I guess part of the reason behind this meeting - and what makes it worthwhile - is that the decisions haven't been absolutely taken and it seems that those who create enough of a (public) fuss might possibly be saved from the chop when ACE finally decides at the end of Jan.

Amongst those proposed for a total or major grant withdrawal are London Bubble, Exeter Northcott, Yvonne Arnaud, Pop-Up Theatre, Drill Hall, National Student Drama Festival, Interchange Legal Studios, Brighton's Komedia, 3 chamber orchestras and Eastern Angles.

There's no full list anywhere, but various publications are collecting the info they receive from companies, so you could look at http://www.thestage.co.uk for news or at http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk

I have collected many Save our Theatre Facebook groups.

Links to them all are in the Saving Theatre in the UK meta facebook group. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6587973954

Links are included for Theatres, Funding cuts objections and other related arts fund cuts and causes.

Many have links to petitions and surveys to document support for these enterprises. Check them out and show your support. Especially if you aren't in London to attend the meeting.

And finally... tell people to about this meta group. Saving Theatre in the UK http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6587973954


Whirlwind Edinburgh pt 4

My goodness my world moves fast. Which is good coz it keeps me on my toes. On the other hand it means my good intentions of blogging my fantastic adventures in Edinburgh is not happening. So I have decided to put links to all the shows I watched with little pics of the companies flyers, the links to their websites and any video clip URLs I found all together so you can look up these talented performers for your selves.


Whirlwind Edinburgh Pt 3

Diverseattractions My first performance of the day was ICQ by Seeing Red at a venue called Diverse Attractions. (pictured left) The performance space was through the arch. A tranquil retreat from the buzz of the Royal Mile in the street beyond. This haven of quiet was enchanting.

Billed as:

Seeing RED presents exciting, innovative theatre with a strong social commitment based around areas of accessibility, inclusion and integration. I-C-Q has been developed as part of the European Year of Equality - highlighting Rights, Representation, Recognition and Respect for all.

Although not what I'd call innovatively staged. Three performers reading from clipboards moving from one bar stool to the next as the stories progressed. That was not the point of the piece. It was the compelling story telling of real stories and experiences about every day struggles with discrimination, immigration, disability, unemployment and ultimately resolution and personal growth.

OK...

4 events down and 14 to blog! arghhhh


Whirlwind Edinburgh Pt 2

To blog or not to blog! Arghhhh. This blogging lark is a fantastic way to document and promote my activities and demonstrate to my clients the merits of blogging. It's finding the time to blog chronologically. Edinburgh was an immensely inspirational 4 days for me and has sparked my creativity and rocketed my business focus to new heights. I want to share that but so much is happening to me I get swept away. This time to reflect is as important as the act of doing. So my task for today is to finish the blog entry so you can access the links and check out the companies and performers for yourself.

I will continue...

Royalmile_2 I left pt 1 at the end of my first performance.

You may recall I made it to 18 events over the 4 days. Hence the notion of the whirlwind trip!

Later on my first night I saw an out door performance of Macbeth. Live theatre in the open air is always magical when you feel the night air on your skin and watch a production in night time darkness. The lighting acting on the real environment, illuminating the stage setting in a real space and not a constructed inner darkness of a blacked out theatre space. Outdoor theatre has a life and energy different from confined performance. Its like a soaring escaped spirit resounding its freedom. As I write this I know I should see more. However it doesn't mean its the best theatre you will ever see its the experience of the theatre form. Out door acoustics and the expanse of space to fill can sap performers of there presence being dwarfed by the stage production its self.

The production took place in the Old College Quad, performed by award winning Polish company, Biuro Podrozy and titled "Macbeth: Who is that bloodied man?"

This link is to the fringe listing and reviews.

This is the link to their web site.

Day Two

During the Edinburgh Fringe beside the numerous performances and activity of the public facing event that is referred to by many as just "Edinburgh" the entertainment industry bubbles beneath with agents and promoters looking for productions and organisations awarding beautifully sculpted pieces of glass for outstanding merit and recognition of talent. I accompanied the Equity team to the Total Theatre Awards breakfast. The time of the event given away by the events title!

Total Theatre, an organisation summed up by this extract from their website is what pioneering quality live theatre is all about and why the Equity "Small Scale Theatre" tag that all the work in Edinburgh is classified under is such a misnomer.

"Total Theatre demands that theatre is more: more than a building; more than a style; more than a museum piece. It suggests a complete and compelling live experience.

We resist too narrow a definition of the term ‘total theatre' but imagine artists and companies leading innovative work within devised theatre, live art, visual performance, mime, experimental theatre, clown, circus, street arts, mask, cabaret and new variety, site specific, dance-theatre, puppet-theatre… and more."

B005_meowsetupglamour_4 Awards ceremonies are by their nature are a predictibly structured affair with celebrations, disapointments, with excited and heart felt thank you speachs. The presenters with elloquence and passion each spoke about their personal attachments to the Total Theatre ethic and their vision for the future. This is what makes fringe and small scale performance so ground breaking. The West End and commercial tours may bring in the crowds and make the money but we have the industries soul and innovation and heart.

The entertainment interlude was unexpected coming in the form of a delightfully sultry performance by Meow Meow. (pictured right)

Visit her website and listen to her at My Space.

To find out more about Total Theatre click here 

To see who was nominated and who won what! Click here

In part 3 I will share with you the rest of that day. Thanks for reading along please come back for next installment before the end of the day. I promise!


Whirlwind of Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Pt1

Edlogo07 Four days and 18 events taking in Steet Performance, Dance, Physical Theatre, Story Telling to Meditation and a dramatised reading of an online guest book. Theatre at its most exciting and diverse. The sector labelled so inacurately by the industry as Small Scale is magnificent and anything but small. Even small productions are emormous in spirit and conviction. Powerful in their intimate venues and sumbimely captured in the majority of cases, 1 hour performances. Attending curtesy of Equity representing the Small Scale Theatre Committee was a privalige.

EquityatworkThe Equity Staff Louise Grainger and Matt Clarke worked tirelessly packing their schedules with company visits, awards ceremonies, leading workshops and when they found time seeing shows. Where was I to start. Once I had over come the overwhelming enormity of choice spread before me I dusted down my Stagemanagement sharp and finely honed scheduling skills and dived in to the Fringe Programe to plan my extravaganza of theatre. Edinburgh in 4 days, shows to see, performers to talk to after all Fran and I were there for one purpose, to spread the Small Scale Theatre Committee are listening and need voices word. Our call to action as part of the ongoing "Mapping the Field" project running at the moment.


Hangman20_2 My first production was "Hangman" at Assembly Aurora Nova by a Russian physical theatre and dance company called DO-Theatre. Hypnoticly beautiful and performed exquisitly making performers and environment dance as one with swinging lights, magical illuminated books (see picture left) and the sounds of the sea. After realising the piece was not driven by a story narrative but the flow of movement and sound I quickly lost myself in the magic. Dark and melodic the performance made all the more fascinating for me to see the costumed technician intergrated as a performer caretaker droping set peices from the grid and performing live sound effect building the show and tying the flow of the dances together.

To see their fringe programe entry - Click here

To visit their website - Click here

To be continued... video links will be posted so you too can see some magic. If you can't wait check this out. Chicos Mambo performance online


Fran and Caron do the Edinburgh Fringe

Last minute rush to let everybody know what I am doing! Updating and publishing web site information before I leave on the 9.30 train from Nottingham and trundle up north to Edinburgh. I am up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Equity. Fran Rifkin (Chair of the committee) and I are spending 4 days at the festival representing the Small Scale Theatre Committee.

The landmark fringe contract rubber stamped and approved my Equity offers security and working structure to small creative companies to take the strain out of the working relationships that too often can come unravelled when working very very close to colleagues and friends. We will be talking to as many performers and stagemanagers as we can plus drinking much coffee and seeing some fine shows or not! depending on the risks we take.

Sstc_online_site_thumbTelling people about what we do and directing them to the committee's web site will be the greatest task and promoting our Mapping the Field exersice which is in full swing will be driving us on too. Oh we might find time to sleep a bit as well.

Go see the site www.sstc-online.org.uk