CDG Announces Code of Conduct + More U.K. Industry News

Photo Source: Courtesy CDG

Hello and welcome back to our roundup of news from across the industry. From stage to screens big and small, we’ve got you covered. It’s everything you need to know and all you can’t afford to miss.

Over 40 percent of theatre professionals have been bullied, 1 in 3 harassed.
Industry newspaper The Stage published their survey of over 1,000 theatre workers, uncovering the scale of bullying and harassment in the industry. Actors, creatives, backstage workers and front of house staff took part, and the results are pretty shocking. According to the 1,050 people who responded, harassment and bullying are “ingrained into the theatre culture”, 43 percent had experienced bullying at work, and 31 percent said they had encountered sexual harassment. Nearly 8 percent of respondents said they had been sexually assaulted at work and the survey also recorded several accounts of rape.

Prompted by scandals at The Old Vic, Out of Joint and within film and TV, The Stage’s research comes at a time when sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse in the industry has become headline news. Whilst those issues were highlighted in the survey, bullying came top of most people concerns and, most shocking of all, 68 percent of disabled workers reported frequent bullying. Across the board, people described feeling “systematically disrespected, devalued and belittled” by colleagues or cast members, and felt less able to report this because of their situation as freelance workers. Read the full report here.

Casting Directors’ Guild announces awards and code of conduct.
Alongside a new awards ceremony for casting directors, a code of conduct was released last week that provides a formal set of guidelines designed to ensure best practice across the industry. The Casting Director’s Guild code of conduct comes after the Casting Directors Associate launched a code of practice last year and make clear that casting directors have “a duty of care” to actors and should discourage unprofessional one-to-one meetings outside of audition rooms. The audition room itself should be a “safe space”.

The CDG consulted with Equity on the guidelines that include giving actors enough time to prepare for auditions and taking account of talent from the communities in which productions are set. Casting director Victor Jenkins, who is on the CDG committee, told The Stage that the new guidelines are “about protecting actors, protecting our membership and also making sure there is a level of excellence and that having those letters CDG after your name becomes something to aspire to.”

The Guild also announced the inaugural CDG Awards in 2019. The awards have been set up in response to a perceived lack of recognition for casting directors at major award ceremonies such as the Oscars and BAFTAs. The first awards ceremony will take place early next year and cover film, TV, theatre, and commercial casting. Actor Mark Gatiss led the announcement, saying that “casting has long been the Cinderella of the entertainment industry with far too little attention paid to the vital and by no means simple task of finding the right person, the right mix, the right chemistry for stage, television and film. Well, now it’s time to go to the ball”!

Liverpool drama school scraps audition fees.
In a bid to attract more working-class actors, Liverpool Theatre School dropped its £45 audition fee. The move was in response to Labour’s Acting Up report, led by MPs Tracy Brabin Gloria De Piero, that suggested the cost of applying to drama schools prevented people from working-class backgrounds entering the industry. The school’s principal Maxine Ellis said they wanted to take the lead in scrapping fees for prospective students and told The Stage that “there are some extremely talented young people who are missing out on training opportunities, purely because they don’t have the financial backing to cover audition fees”.

Bike Shed Theatre to close.
Exeter’s Bike Shed Theatre is to close in March. The well-respected, 60-seat venue has been using a bar to subsidise Arts Council funding for the past eight years but co-founder David Lockwood said money was running out and staying open meant “compromising what we do”. Since opening in 2010, the theatre has housed successful productions and collected awards including the Peter Brook Empty Space Award and a UK Theatre Award for Most Welcoming Theatre. Read the full announcement here.

Stage Production News
US star Laura Linney is making her stage debut at London’s newest theatre in a Richard Eyre-directed version of the acclaimed novel, “My Name Is Lucy Barton”. Linney most recently starred in Netflix’s original crime series “Ozark” and is a three-time Emmy winner and Oscar nominee. Richard Eyre previously worked with her on “The Crucible” in New York. Rona Munro adapted the story of a difficult reunion between a mother and daughter.

The Offies have announced their nominees ahead of the annual award ceremony for independent theatre productions in March. The list includes favourites such as actor Ken Nwosu and writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins for “An Octoroon” at the Orange Tree Theatre.

Check out Backstage’s London audition listings!