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Telling On A Sunday

March 20, 2013

An item in “The Stage” newspaper last week caught my attention. It was about an actor trying to raise opposition to a change in contracts to allow producers to run two rather than one performance on a Sunday, if they choose.

That got me thinking about just how hard practically everybody seems to be working now. I usually manage one week a year off – and many small business owners I know don’t even allow themselves that.

Shop workers, for example, now do hours unimaginable when I worked in a shop. Then, it was 8.30am to 5.30pm 5 days a week. Now, you could be working until midnight on a Saturday, and for whole weeks without end in the run up to the turkey season.

So, do actors get a raw deal if they did two shows on a Sunday? It won’t just be them who suffer. Cleaners will have to work an extra day (and start early), to be clear of the auditorium for the technical team to come in and set up. The box office staff will lose the late start, dressers, wigs, wardrobe… 200 people or so all losing a day completely.

That said, does it mean there will be extra jobs created? Evidence is that a good few shows that tried it found any Sunday performances weren’t that popular, and dropped them again.

Whatever the media say, the UK still has a strong Christian community who are reluctant to use a Sunday for theatre – I speak from personal experience in organising groups.

Even if you do fancy a trip, London Underground often do their best to thwart that – another consideration for producers getting the team to the theatre too, come to that.

In other words, the flexibility might just be bringing the possibilities into line with the rest of the 2013 workforce, but will anyone put it into practise on a wider basis (only one show currently runs 2 shows on a Sunday)… I’d be curious to find out.

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