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PRACTICE OF CHICAGO THEATRE STANDARDS: Draft

We strongly urge all faculty, students, crew, staff, guest artists to be familiar with the following resources.  This draft document draws from them frequently, often quoting directly.

 

The Chicago Theatre Standards

https://theaterartsguild.org/about/chicago-theatre-standards/[11] 

 

Drama League Defense Fund Toolkit

https://thedldf.org/[12] 

 

While the process of creating live theatre is overall a satisfying experience, every production has the potential to encounter misunderstandings, divisions, conflicts, and confusion around a production’s intent or interpretation.

 

We offer the following suggestions for directors to incorporate into their process with company.

 

What can you start implementing on the first day of rehearsal?

In many productions, the full company assembles on the first day of rehearsal for a read-through of the entire work and a discussion. This rehearsal is the ideal time to invite participants to share their thoughts and to lay out potential concerns over the challenges of staging certain aspects of the material. It is also a key opportunity for the director to lay out their artistic vision for the production, and to, potentially, address challenges related to the content of the work. These challenges will not all be solved on the first day of rehearsals, of course, but this strategy provides a useful opportunity for identifying issues, beginning a conversation, and considering how the rehearsal process might be adapted, with enough time allotted, to ensure that these challenges are productively addressed.  In addition, it is suggested that each production should create an evolving “Community Agreement” list that each artist in the rehearsal process agrees to, commits to, and contributes to.  Also, it is strongly suggested that mandatory community Talk Backs or Panels be scheduled to occur with each production involving members of the cast, and design team, and the director.

 

This first meeting  is an excellent time to announce to the cast and designers that the Chicago

Standards are being applied to the production (see sample speech below)

The following “first day script” is adapted from the First Rehearsal Script created by Lifeline Theatre In Chicago; one of the contributors to the Chicago Theatre Standards.  The following is not prescriptive or definitive, but is offered as a sample to be used or adapted.

Department Head/Director: 

University of Georgia Theatre has adopted The Chicago Theatre Standards, available online  at www.notinourhouse.org[13] 

The aim of these theatre standards is to adopt procedures to prevent and respond to unsafe and/or abusive events, environments or individuals. If there is a fight scene in the show, there will also be a qualified choreographer. If there are scenes that require physical intimacy in the show, parameters will be agreed upon and safeguards will be put in place to maintain them.

An important component of the UGA Theatre Standards is the Concern Resolution Path. This is a four-­‐tiered list of people who you can contact if you feel uncomfortable or have any concerns throughout this production process.

At the first rehearsal you will receive a printed copy of the Concern Resolution Path with contact information for everyone on the path. This document will also be posted in the rehearsal and dressing rooms for your reference.

I’d like to ask everyone on the path to introduce themselves. (Go around room and check in)

The UGA Theatre Standards contains a number of pledges that we, the producing theater, make to you. Among these is a welcoming environment free of harassment and discrimination.

Since a positive environment is a team effort, we’d like to take this opportunity to read the definitions of harassment aloud to make sure we have a shared understanding.

NAME (show director) if you could begin, and then everyone else just jump in for a section when you like, no particular order, changing speakers with color changes.

Company members read aloud:

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

1.                 Inappropriate or insulting remarks, gestures, jokes, innuendoes or taunting about a person's racial or ethnic background, color, place of birth, citizenship, ancestry, creed, or disability,

2.                 Unwanted questions or comments about an Artist’s private life,

3.                 Posting or display of materials, articles, or graffiti, etc. which may cause humiliation, offence or embarrassment on prohibited grounds.

4.                 Sexual Harassment:

a.                 One or a series of comments or conduct of a gender-­‐related or sexual nature that is known or ought reasonably be known to be unwelcome/unwanted, offensive, intimidating, hostile or inappropriate. Artists have the right to be free from:

i.                   Sexual solicitation or advance made by a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement,

ii.                 Reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance where the reprisal is made by a person in a position to grant, confer, or deny a benefit or advancement.

b.                 Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to:

i.                   Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendoes or taunting about a person's body, attire, gender, or sexual orientation,

ii.                 Unwanted touching or any unwanted or inappropriate physical contact such as touching, kissing, patting, hugging or pinching,

iii.                Unwelcome enquiries or comments about a person's sex life or sexual preference,

iv.                Leering, whistling, or other suggestive or insulting sounds,

v.                 Inappropriate comments about clothing, physical characteristics or activities,

vi.                Posting or display of materials, articles, or graffiti, etc. which is sexually oriented,

vii.              Requests or demands for sexual favors which include, or strongly imply, promises of rewards for complying (e.g., job advancement opportunities, and/or threats of punishment for refusal (e.g., denial of job advancement or opportunities).

All or part of the above grounds may create a negative environment for individuals or groups. This may have the effect of "poisoning" the work environment.

It should be noted that a person does not have to be a direct target to be adversely affected by a negative environment. It includes conduct or comment that creates and maintains an offensive, hostile, or intimidating climate.

Director/Dept Head: Thank you. Negative comments or actions often occur accidentally – but even when that is the case -­‐-­‐ if we don’t address them in the moment it can start a slide into a less professional room. Here is One way to handle negative comments or actions in real time that we will begin utilizing in rehearsals and classrooms.                                     

We’d like to recommend a system of “Ouch” and “Oops.”

For instance:

 

Speaker A is trying too hard to be funny and makes a thoughtless remark. Speaker B says “Ouch!” This cues Speaker A to realize that the funny remark was potentially hurtful. Speaker A says “Oops” to indicate recognition and regret. Then there’s a Pause.

It’s up to the Ouch-­‐caller whether this moment requires some conversation. So maybe there’s a conversation– or maybe the Ouch caller says “Cool, let’s move on.” But the decision to move on must come from the Ouch-­‐ caller.

Please note that anyone in the room can call “Ouch.” It does not have to come from the person who is the focus of the potentially hurtful remark.

Any questions or discussion on any of this?

 

Thank you. May I ask that we pledge to each other that we will work together to promote an environment where it feels safe to speak up -­‐-­‐ and that we will welcome any reminder to maintain a positive and respectful room.

If you so pledge, please say “I do.”

Thank you. If an experience ever feels larger than an Ouch-­Oops moment, please know that concerns about harassment, safety, content, or a negative environment may be reported through several channels.

 

Concern Resolution Path[14] 

The purpose of the CRP is to create a safe and comfortable environment for all members of our production team. We take concerns seriously and seek to address issues in a sensitive and timely manner.

Please note that if a situation arises that you feel is in direct conflict with UGA’s Anti-Discrimination and Harrassment Policy, https://eoo.uga.edu/civil_rights_NDAH/ndah-policy/[15]  you are required to report it to EOO. 

   But, in lieu of that, you would seek help or raise concerns with the following;

   Level One

If you feel comfortable doing so, we encourage you to first directly address your concern with the individual(s) involved. This helps to foster an honest and open community and is often the fastest path to a resolution.

 

Level Two

If you are not comfortable directly addressing the individual(s) involved, or if no resolution can be agreed upon, your next points of contact can be any of the following:

The Stage Manager

The Director

The Deputy (After the first week of rehearsal, the cast elects a member who agrees to be a conduit to bring cast questions or concerns to the stage manager or to the organization)

Diversity Committee Liaison, (If you are dealing with issues of diversity and inclusion)

 

For members of the Design and Production Team, contact your Major Professor or Technical Director.

 

Level Three

If an issue has not been resolved through Levels One and Two, or if you are an individual named in Level Two who needs assistance to resolve the issue, your next points of contact can be any of the following people. The contacts at this level may consult with each other and review any legal or other implications of any decision.

 

The Department Undergrad Advisor

The Graduate Coordinator

The Undergraduate Coordinator[16] 

 

Level Four

    Finally, if needed, contact the Head of the Department[17] .

 

 

SAMPLE PRODUCTION CONTRACT

 

Below is a sample contract for all involved with the production to sign.

 

This sample agreement is written for a performer. Additions and omissions should be made to adapt the agreement for directors, designers, and other participants.

 

The following agreement is made between                              (“Theatre”) and                                 (“Actor”) on this                 (date). The Theatre hereby engages the Actor in its production of                                                                        (“Production”) in the role of________ .

 

1.   Production Dates. The Production Dates are as follows:

Rehearsals:

Tech:

Previews:

Opening Date:

Performances:

Closing Date:

 

2.   Compensation. There is no compensation for this performance.

Or

_______ shall receive a total fee as outlined in separate contract/rider.

 

This agreement shall not constitute ______as an employee of the Theatre, and it is understood that the _____ shall perform his/her duties as an independent contractor.

 

3.   Rehearsal and Performance Schedule. Subject to Section 4 of this Agreement, ______ agrees to report to and attend punctually all rehearsals, tech, calls, and performances as stipulated by the Theatre, the director, or the stage manager. They agree to be available for all performances. Any factors that may impact the Actor’s availability must be immediately communicated to the stage manager. The failure by the Actor to attend such rehearsals, tech, or performances or the late arrival by the Actor to such rehearsals, tech, or performances may result in termination of the Actor and removal from the Production at the discretion of the Theatre, without notice or compensation.

 

 

 

4.   Conflicts

Any potential conflicts with the performance schedule shall be disclosed to the Theatre prior to the execution of this contract. All absences due to conflicts must receive prior approval by the director and stage manager. Approvals for an Actor’s absence due to conflicts will not be granted for tech, previews, or opening night or any performance during the first weekend (“Opening Weekend”)..

 

5.   Responsibilities. The Actor agrees to meet all guidelines generally accepted for professional behavior, including, but not limited to, punctuality with regard to all rehearsal and performance calls and adherence to the director and producing body’s intents. The Actor agrees to perform such roles and duties as are listed on the face of this contract as well as other duties that may be assigned at a later date. The Actor further agrees to abide by all rules, regulations, and policies as set forth by the Theatre, such policies to be discussed and distributed at the first rehearsal, deemed to be incorporated into this agreement. The Actor’s failure to comply with the responsibilities herein stated may result in termination of the Actor and removal from the Production at the discretion of the Theatre, without notice or compensation.

 

6.   Property. The Theatre and its representatives are not responsible for the Actor’s personal property during meetings, rehearsals, tech, or the run of the production. The Actor hereby waives all claims for recovery from the Theatre for any such loss or damage (whether or not such loss or damage is caused by negligence of the Theatre).

 

7.   Complimentary Tickets. Each cast member receives one comp ticket that must be reserved through the front office.

 

8.   Severability. The provisions of this contract shall be separable, and the invalidity of any provision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions.

 

9.   Entire Agreement. The parties agree that this instrument represents the entire agreement between them and that the terms of this agreement may not be altered unless such alteration is accomplished in writing and is signed by both parties.

 

Agreed and Accepted as of the date first written above, by:

 

Name:                                                                                     Name:

For the Theatre                                                                                  Contractor

 

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