Saturday, June 26, 2010

The hyphenated member

There has been a lot of discussion lately, in connection with the independent theatre review, on the subject of the "hyphenated" nature of our membership. By this, people mean that members frequently pursue a career as an actor-playwright, director-coach, SM-TD and similar. The basic point being made is that almost all of us have hyphenated careers – some have even gone so far as to say that they don't know any members who don't have hyphenated careers.

Since most of these pronouncements are based on anecdotal data, I thought it might be worth measuring them against some more comprehensive stats. As it turns out, they're not far off the mark.

In the 2007 survey, we asked members to tell us a bit about the composition of their careers and, in fact, almost all of them are hyphenated. 81% of members indicated that they had worked in Equity's jurisdiction in the three year period preceding the survey, but only a small percentage indicated that was their only source of work.

Among the hyphenated, the highest percentage (62%) also worked in a similar capacity in other performance areas, such as film, television or music. 57% indicated that they had various other jobs related to live performance, but outside our jurisdiction, with coaching, writing and teaching at a post-secondary level topping the list. Approximately 44% of members mentioned work outside the realm of live performance – employment in the service industries, other professional pursuits and office work accounted for just over half of that.

I'm sure it won't have escaped notice that this adds up to way more than 100% of the membership. So not only is most of the membership hyphenated, but many appear to have more than one hyphen in their career. Nothing surprising there.

In the next section of the survey, we asked how all those pursuits fit together in a single year. The response to a that question brings a bit more clarity to the picture.

Taken as a group, just under half of the membership's typical year is spent doing work under Equity contracts, or in similar performance activities. The remainder of the work year is devoted largely to activities outside of our jurisdiction, split evenly between those related to live performance and those not.

What a life! There are times when I think stats like these should be plastered on the cover of every theatre school and university drama department brochure. I wonder how many people would pursue live performance as a career if they knew, in advance, what to expect...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Halifax Audition Project follow-up

This was nice to hear...

I got an email the other day that provided a great coda to this spring's audition project in Halifax. I'm sharing it with permission (and with identifying details removed).
I just wanted to let you both know that I have been engaged at the *****. This came about directly because I auditioned for ***** at the Audition Project. I had never auditioned for him/her or met him/her before then. He/she called me up out of the blue last week and offered me the gig. I sincerely hope you and PACT can offer this opportunity again and that more people will recognize what a wonderful opportunity it is for both actors and directors/ADs. 
I can't think of anything to add to that, except "amen".

Friday, June 4, 2010

Diversity and e-drive notices

I've been reading a lot of e-drive audition notices recently. No, you don't need to worry that I have taken up acting – Canadian theatre is still safe from my acting/singing/dancing talents, and we should all be thankful for that.

Mostly, I am curious to see how theatres have been using the recently-added ability to include an ethnocultural mandate or ethnocultural casting statement. This change was made in response to engager and member input, and as a result of policy changes in the wake of Council's focus on diversity issues.

The principal intention was to allow an engager to focus a casting call to a subset of our members that reflected either the company's ethnocultural mandate, or the requirements of the show in question. Theatres responded right away.

What I've been waiting for, and what I am beginning to see in increasing numbers, are other theatres using this space to declare that what they are looking for is talent, without regard to ethnicity. Thank you to those who have so clearly stated a commitment to ensuring Canadian stages look like Canada does.

I recognise that this is not the end of the road, but it is a hopeful sign that we have started down the right one. 'Bout time.