Safety, inclusion and access
(Important note - if you need our inclusion policies, or links to best safe practice, or to links for mental health or anti-bullying help, please scroll through the right-hand column -> )
Speaking out: For far too long, in the entertainment (theatre, film etc) industry, there has been too frequently a culture of acceptance of abuse, bullying, aggression, belittliing, sexual impropriety, racism and marginalisation of people, when in reality, art and culture should be safe for everyone (particpant, audience etc).
Over the years we have seen it try to filter into our company; with a tiny but hugely distressing minority of people over the years seeking sexual experiences, or to bully, belittle, scam or intimidate others in a shocking variety of ways.
Heartbreakingly, we have also had inexperienced people seeking acceptance in theatre, even, as their first enquiry, send a nude photo of themselves, under the impression this would help them get cast.
In our early days we found ourselves temporarily barred from being able to perform in places because of the (non-white) racial appearance of the company founder.
As a company for and run by working-class people from a socially deprived area, we are often asked to work for free by large national/international production companies in return for "possibly seeing [ourselves] on TV" with no thought that our people deserve recognition as professional actors, due to "being regional" (and frequent surprise when we challenge this assumption).
Every aim is made to be a safe, supportive space, because that is the whole intention. When things go wrong, it is taken very seriously.
Inclusion: We were created to fill a gap - after finding no professional or training opportunities for theatre in our area, we raised £80 from a carboot sale, and decided to start our own.
Our company upholds the belief that anyone can participate fully in creating theatre, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, income, previous experience or personal background.
All that matters is that a person is kind to, and respectful of others, reliable, pleasant to work with in a team, and able & willing to create top quality theatre and entertainment.
Our scheduling is designed as best as possible to allow people to participate around other activities, work, studies, family and life responsibilities. We ask everyone who applies to get involved with us, about their availability, to best build a rehearsal and show schedule around them.
We work with people who range from beginners who have never set foot in a theatre, to national/ international/ Hollywood "names". Everyone works together in an inclusive, friendly, supportive and respectful atmosphere - and have lots of laughs along the way.
We make every effort to extend inclusion and access to audiences too, by keeping ticket prices as low as possible, touring to both theatres, and other venues like churches etc; creating our Theatre Buddies scheme where people who may feel barred by loneliness or not having a friend to attend with, to visit the theatre with a creative social experience; creating free education packs that are shared beyond the confines of the audience, sharing show details and cast/ crewing calls as widely as possible locally both online and offline.
To us, theatre and performance, should never be an elitist, gatekept, unwelcoming or unsafe activity.
In recent times in the media, there has been an enormous amount of speaking out (at long, overdue last) about abuses by famous producers, companies, drama schools, and actors who have used their fame and influence, to coerce and frighten others. In shocking reality, almost every person working in the industry has experienced something of this nature. Many have left the industry because of it. Many more are scarred with PTSD, and other similar conditions from, or exacerbated by, what they have experienced. This is unacceptable.
As a result, there are beginnings of the negative issues in the industry being challenged. Trade unions like Equity, and other production advice, and arts organisations are taking significant positive action to challenge these old and "traditional" abuses. Still; many people are afraid to speak out, or experience terrifying backlashes when they do, causing them to be silenced once again. Often too, it is actors and crew who are cited as the sole persons who are abused or bullied, when in fact it can be anyone; in any role; who may suffer bullying and abuse, by people in any role, regardless of whether they are an actor, crew, director, producer, writer or other role.
We feel that not only is it the province of over-arching bodies like Equity to take a stand, but that individual production companies, like ourselves, should also speak out and take a public stand.
Until we all present a united front against the abusers, they will find ways to continue their activities, and none of us are truly safe.
Laura Jury, Ric Vince
Please scroll down this column for information on
* How to approach us with any questions relating to inclusion
* Our visible & non-visible disability accessibility adjustments
* Our Anti-racism action plan
* Free Mental health support
* Free Anti-bullying support
* Staying safe in productions & while travelling.
* Trade union policies
We love to welcome performers, crew, audiences - well anyone really, regardless of gender identity, sexuality, race, disability, religion, political belief, or experience; and do our absolute best, within our means, to make sure that we make things as accessible as humanly possible.
Please also bear in mind that this also means that several of our regular team members; including some admin, crew and other actors, themselves may be of minorities and/or have access needs of various kinds; so if you have any questions, or need to discuss anything relating to access and inclusion, then please do get in touch, knowing that you will be heard with an understanding ear.
How to approach us to discuss anything:
We do ask that accessibility enquires and requests are clearly worded, and succinct, ideally in writing/ email - or a video message- as we need them to be accessible to our team members / admins regardless of any access needs they may themselves have as well.
You will receive a clear response within 7 days (usually less).
Messages will come to organization founder Laura Jury, who may in turn need to check with other team members or venues before replying, depending on the nature of the enquiry.
EMAIL email@example.com PHONE 07855 090589
Equity are promoting a great deal of safety in casting:
We follow these policies in our casting and crewing.
Manifesto for Casting | Safe Places Policy | Cast It Here | Inclusive Casting Policy | Performance for All | Inclusion for Autistic Artists
Information on intimacy choreography
We avoid having sexual or explicit content in our shows, as we feel that such content can encourage sexual abusers to see theatre as an outlet for what they are seeking, however we feel all cast and crew should be aware of the advances in best practice for any show involving such content.
Intimacy for stage & screen
If travelling to or from rehearsals/ shows at unusual hours, or to a company which you do not know, we would like to make you aware of this personal safety phone app which you may find useful: Hollie Guard
If an incident of percieved bullying, aggression, or victimisation takes place in our company, please in the first instance, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, along with any evidence you may have. Please rest assured that you will be listened to seriously, and the matter looked into, with action taken if needed. If we are unsure what to do, we may take external advice from Equity, or other organisations.
If for any reason you feel unable to do that, we would urge you to please contact Equity, the actors trade union, directly; you can find more information on their website HERE
You may also find suppport and advice via the following websites :
Dealing with mental health concerns
Mental health is also enormously important. Actors and entertainment creatives, as a demographic, are disproportionally affected by poor mental health, up to and including suicide.
We all react differently; there is no-one size-fits-all for help, but often it can be needed.
Therefore, it seems appropriate to list a number of resources for assisting mental health.
For people from Ethnic backgrounds who may be experiencing mental health struggles or distress from racism, this link on Inc Arts can provide FREE support: COUNSELLING VIA INC ARTS
For Torbay-based people, the NHS MENTAL HEATH CRSIS LINE is 0300 456 4876, available overnight every day, and 24/hours on bank holidays. They will share details that you tell them with your GP. They are very helpful, especially when you feel you will need medical assistance or are at risk of self harm.
SHOUT This is a free 24/7 text service for people experiencing a mental health breakdown. Text "Help" to 85258. All texts are free and confidential. This line is brilliant and has saved Laura's (organisation founder)'s life several times. Without them there would be no South Devon Players.
The THEATRE HELPLINE provides free mental health support and advice via phone or email, to people working in theatre 24/7.
ARTSMINDS is a website providing advice and support for a number of issues that may cause someone working in the creative industries poor mental health.
PLAYING SANE is a signposting website full of useful information
WOMEN WITH AUTISM/ ASPERGERS UK SUPPORT GROUP Additionally for female-identifying autistic people, this is a safe and supportive facebook group for discussion issues or questions relating to your autism and wellbeing.
WELL-BEING IN THEATRE
- new website for supporting creative practitioners with mental health