Blue Sky by Clare Bayley

Blue Sky by Clare Bayley, 2012

Founded in

1974

Artistic Director

Elizabeth Freestone

Since 2012

Pentabus Theatre Company logo

Profile

Pentabus is the nation’s rural theatre company. We develop and produce quality new theatre about the contemporary rural world. We tour the country with plays that have local impact and national resonance. We turn up in peoples’ village halls, theatres and digital backyards, connecting audiences nationwide.

+ www.pentabus.co.uk

Company type: touring

Company Type

Touring

Pentabus is based on a farm in Shropshire and tours nationally

Public funding graph

Public Funding

£190,536

Arts Council England subsidy for the 2013/14 financial year.

Location: Shropshire

Location

Shropshire

Productions

5

Opened in 2013

Staff

Core staff

Our Question

What are the practical and creative implications for an organisation such as Pentabus when employing pregnant actors? Is there a way Pentabus could usefully support our colleagues in the industry to be more confident about working with pregnant actors?

We are proud to be a company that supports male and female artists equally across all areas of our organisation. We happen to have worked with a number of pregnant actors over the last couple of years and are aware, through conversations, they have had varying experiences, good and bad, of employment whilst being pregnant. We realised there were many things we could do to support pregnant actors better and felt this might be something useful for the wider industry too.

What We Did

“The focus of our Advance work has been about working with pregnant actors. As well as the learning we’ve done about admin, health and safety etc. it’s made us really interrogate much bigger creative questions too. What do audiences feel about watching a pregnant actor on stage? What does it mean for the character? How do writers, actors, designers and directors talk about pregnancy in creative terms? All bold, empowering questions that will influence our work, both practically and artistically.”
Elizabeth Freestone,
Artistic Director 

Investigation

We put out an anonymous survey for actors to fill in. We spoke to various HR, legal, and healthcare experts. We spoke to casting directors, directors and actors. We researched current advice and working practices.

What We Learned

That although there are some examples of good practice, there is a large amount of uncertainty around the idea of employing pregnant actors. Some organisations are misinformed, nervous, or even obstructive to the idea.

What We’re Doing in Response to What We Learned

The big thing we felt we’d like to do is create a pregnancy pack. This will be a document that goes through all of the considerations and responsibilities for both actors and organisations. We hope to cover things like: who an actor should tell and when; what processes a company should have in place; issues of health, insurance, contracts, safety etc, as well as looking at creative choices and questions of taste and performance.

Is This Work a Step Towards a Bigger Goal?

Our aim is to be a brilliant employer for pregnant actors. And to disseminate the way in which we do this across the whole theatre industry, with particular focus on touring companies.

“The Advance programme has been really interesting for us. We’ve seen how, as a small organisation, we can be fleet-of-foot with implementing change and make big steps quickly. But we’ve also learned from the bigger companies that change needs to be seeded in every part of an organisation, top down to bottom up. It’s a mind-set as well as a system. What’s been heartening to know is that there are multiple practical things we can all do – big organisations and small – to make change a reality. The Advance toolkit we’ve now all got in our back pockets is invaluable. The focus of our Advance work has been about working with pregnant actors. As well as the learning we’ve done about admin, health and safety etc. it’s made us really interrogate much bigger creative questions too. What do audiences feel about watching a pregnant actor on stage? What does it mean for the character? How do writers, actors, designers and directors talk about pregnancy in creative terms? All bold, empowering questions that will influence our work, both practically and artistically.”
Elizabeth Freestone, Artistic Director

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