Doing a show, while being a great experience, can sometimes be stressing especially during the weekend just before opening. It's not easy to juggle theatre, degree, social life and sleep for an average Cambridge student. It is very important to remember that your welfare is more important than the show.
This page serves as an open platform to discuss welfare-related issues.
Balance & Boundaries
Shows can be exciting and engaging things to be involved in, but they can also seem all-consuming. It's worthwhile to set boundaries for yourself in terms of time, energy and responsibility, so that your commitment to a show doesn't extend beyond what you intended to give. There are a few ways you can hold onto these boundaries:
- Timetable your hours spent working on a show and stick to them. This prevents it becoming a never-ending job.
- Make sure your producer knows any commitments you have during the get-in or show week. Make sure you stick to these unless you're certain you can skip things - it's very easy for someone to tell you to skip a lecture or a social activity to work on a show. This becomes a concern during get-ins, but provided you've warned ahead it should be fine.
- Ensure you know what you are and are not expected to do. Different shows will set up roles differently depending on peoples' experience and availability, so it's good to know where your responsibility ends.
Long Hours/Time Out
ADC Theatre and Corpus Playroom
During the Get-in Weekend, it is common that the technical team stays a long time inside the theatre, especially if it's an ADC Mainshow. There is a time-out rule that No one can stay in the venues for more than 16 hours in one go without an 8 hour break. Everyone must have a break lasting at least 8 hours or longer, you cannot pop out of the theatre for a couple of hours and return to continue working. You should not be reaching 16 hours in the theatre on a regular basis and its also important that you rest during the 8 hours out rather than working.
Working overnight is only typically done in the ADC Theatre for ADC Mainshows, in order to rig and plot lights before the get-in occurs for a main show. They will occasionally happen to finish off work for big shows (eg. to complete get-in for LTM) and in this case require permission from ADC Management. They tend to start early on a Sunday morning as soon as the previous week's main show has finished their get out, and they will go until the work is done - often meeting with the start of the main get-in.
Planning an Overnight
Often, a production team will assume that the lighting designer is planning an overnight, and importantly is willing to do an overnight. This should not be assumed and should be discussed well before the get-in weekend. If you are uncomfortable doing an overnight or just don't want to have to stay up all night, that is very valid - it just means things will need to be planned and scheduled differently, especially considering the tight timeframe for a get-in.
If you decide to do an overnight, you need to have someone present as Technical Representative who has been part of an overnight before. They are responsible for running the show and all health and safety issues. Ideally you'll get a team of a few people (at least 4 in total) to be there, as things can go much quicker with more hands, and you can all get to bed.
Feel free to contact the CUADC Technicians Rep firstname.lastname@example.org and Technical Director email@example.com if you need any advice about an overnight, or are struggling to find people to help.
Doing an Overnight
Staying in the theatre overnight is not an option that should be taken lightly, and you should ensure you are prepared. You need to make sure you're well rested rather than already being tired when you arrive, especially considering the larger risks present when working at height and with mains electricity.
Food and breaks are also an important consideration - even if you've eaten well during the day you will definitely get hungry in the early hours. Common practice is to buy some frozen pizzas and cook them in the ADC kitchen. It's also good to bring some other snacks - biscuits, fruit etc. as rigging the lighting is hard work and you'll need to keep yourselves going! Make sure to plan breaks in which you can eat these snacks, rest your weary bodies and take stock of what you're doing and what's left.
During a show week, demands on the cast can get very heavy, especially if it is a busy week in term. Whilst your producer and director should be looking out for you as well, they are not mind readers and show week can be very hectic and distracting, so make sure you are in constant communication with them - especially if you feel your welfare is being compromised for any reason. Here are a few tips to make show week bearable:
- Make sure you sleep enough! Get-ins and technical rehearsals can sometimes run very late, so it is important to get enough sleep for you to function properly as a human. If you feel like you are not resting enough, make sure you speak to your director or producer, and go home. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO NAP IN THE THEATRE.
- Stay hydrated, and eat enough food. It is dangerous for you to be anywhere near a stage when you are not well-fuelled. In addition, do not consume any alcohol before going to stage - if you are known to have any alcohol in your system before a performance you will not be allowed on stage. This is a universal rule for cast and crew.
- Take time for yourself. Sometimes it can be overwhelming being in such close quarters with so many people. Try to have some quiet time if you need it.
- Bring your work with you! If your supervisor is breathing down your neck and your essay is due tomorrow, it is much better to try and work in small bursts in free-time during rehearsals, than it is to pull an all nighter. Technical rehearsals are often very stop and start for actors, and so are a great time to squeeze in a little work if you have to. Of course, in addition to this, if everything becomes a little too much, do not force yourself to work. If you have to take out an essay extension, or apologise to your supervise for some 'not great' work, don't beat yourself up about it. You should never sacrifice your health for work (or theatre, for that matter).
As a director, you are primarily responsible for the welfare of the cast as you have the most contact with them. Some possible signs that someone's welfare has been compromised are: extreme tiredness/exhaustion; increased irritability or emotional outbursts (where usually that is not in their nature); sudden or intense illness. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does give you some things to be on the look out for.
There is no prescriptive way of managing welfare, as everyone has different needs and tolerance levels. However, here are a list of things you can/should do, to help your cast survive show week as healthily and happily as possible.
- Establish rapport between you and the cast so they can approach you when they are uncomfortable. This should be done from the outset, but is particularly important in show week.
- Make sure your cast take regular breaks - and by regular breaks we mean resting, relaxing, and leaving the theatre where possible - not just sitting in the club room hours.
- Schedule your time as accurately as possible so that your cast are only at the rehearsal or theatre for as long as they are needed.
- Have a safe word. It might sound silly, but sometimes a get-in or a technical rehearsal can be very overwhelming, especially for actors, and a safe-word saves them having to explain to a whole company of cast and crew why they might need a break or some fresh air. Establish one early on with your team, and then use it as a 'no questions asked' rule for when someone needs an urgent break.
- Do nice things for each other(cast and production team). Leave cute notes, make a round of tea, bring biscuits etc. Just try to be extra kind and helpful if you can - everyone will really appreciate it, and return the favour when they can!
- Try the best to avoid super long rehearsals. Give cast a reasonable amount of notice so they can schedule their work or other aspects of lives accordingly.