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Minutes from SM Zoom meeting Tuesday 26th May  


Fiona Keller
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With thanks to Saoirse Anton for taking and transcribing the minutes.

My aim is to consolidate some of these points into discussion forums for people to add to over the coming weeks and help us draw up some clear guidelines and parameters for our specific title.

Introduction

  • We need to be prepared for a similar thing to happen again in future. We need to take this moment to fix things in the industry.
  • Donna Leonard: Panto – Olympia & Gaiety panto still hopeful, but call in Aug. Otherwise – can’t see SMs being back to work before Xmas.
  • Fringe & DTF are hoping to go ahead in an adapted form.

 

*Social Distancing Implications- Pete Jordon

  • Biggest difficulty is managing systems of work. Trying to re-mount work that previously existed will be hugely effected by this as so much will have to be adapted to make existing work C19 compliant.
  • One of the biggest considerations with social distancing will be scale in terms of the entire production – lighting, set, sound, cast, crew.
  • Scaling down shows means less work for freelancers, so that is something that should be considered.
  • Usual procedures will have to change, from white card stage on.
  • Social Distancing for now is 2m, but in general social distancing will be a major issue for things like dance, opera etc. Trying to put an orchestra into a venue will be incredibly difficult. Distancing changes with context – what work is being done, what is ventilation like in the venue, are there vulnerable people in the space?

 

* Covid Compliance Officer- whose duty is this?

  • The C19 officer role cannot fall to the PM or SM. It should be from a senior management level and should be collaborative with regard to developing C19 policy at white card level. Employers are responsible for ensuring policy is developed and implemented.
  • Every company needs to have a policy and guidelines in place. Venue managers/programmers won’t touch a show without a policy.
  • SLUA have been putting together guidelines for venues which can also be applied to producing and touring companies.
  • We’ve all gotten well practiced in self-policing over the last couple of months, hopefully this will carry over into the rehearsal room and stage.
  • If there isn't buy in from everyone, there is no point in starting the process. There should be no policing necessary. Everyone has to take ownership of this and take personal responsibility seriously.

 

* Setting up of Rehearsal Room including checking Covid Procedures, hand sanitising stations, green room facilities etc.

 

  • Hygiene and distancing policies need to be introduced at casting and contract stages.
  • First day of working on a production has to include a comprehensive C19 briefing.
  • SMs should be involved much earlier in the production process than they currently are, from conversations around space booking etc. onwards. Should be part of covid policy to involve SM from white-card stage.
  • Rooms can’t be shared with a day/evening split any more. With scarcity of rehearsal spaces, this will be a conversation that will have to happen with venues and spaces. Increased hire times and limitations regarding space will also have to be taken into account with budgets.
  • These things need to be discussed early with producers so that they can be worked into budgets.
  • Needs to be a collaborative cross-industry approach, rather than individual groups just having to fight their own corner. Setting industry standards and clear open guidelines that are readily available into the future.
  • Need rigorous contracting practices and job descriptions.

 

* Rehearsals: Running The Room

 

  • Personal belongings should be kept separate and nothing should be shared. All should be cleared individually by the end of the day.
  • Have only the essential people in the room. Whose responsibility is it to set these limits?
  • Digital apps for prompt copy. Soft copy of all documentation for handover and sharing purposes.
  • What lines are drawn in rehearsal rooms regarding best practices with objects and spaces? Once hand and respiratory hygiene practices are rigorous, then that is the main thing, then a regular cleaning and disinfecting schedule.
  • UV Sanitising props –there is some research being done. UVC method used in healthcare settings. Shadowing is an issue, so would need to be used in a specific mirrored box with the item suspended. Needs to be a closed box as the light will cause burns to skin. Feasible for delicate props and costume once thought out and planned carefully.
  • Likely that initially work will be minimal and producers will be avoiding complicated prop and costume-heavy work.
  • Need to factor in cleaning and disinfecting into rehearsal and production schedules.
  • Cast being responsible for own costume as an option, and arrive at the theatre dressed. Company provide them with a cover/coat of some sort. Need to be aware of risks of means of transport – what is being picked up on public transport and brought to the work space in on costume?
  • Sadbh Barrett Coakley: Working on an outdoor project with Corcadorca in cork. Small scale work to be brought to greens in housing estates where people can watch it from their windows and gardens. No gathering encouraged or necessary. Looking at 16 different locations. Distancing is built in from a conceptual stage of the work, with a screen separating the two performers. Developing policy around handling and transporting equipment, loading and unloading etc safely. Cork City Council on board and involved. Zoom rehearsals currently, some outdoor rehearsals next week. Cast arriving in costume. No shared props.
  • LIR is returning to rehearsal in Sept, aware that there is the luxury of not relying on box office income, but working with longer rehearsal and production periods and working in “bubbles” where small groups working together and not overlapping.

 

* SM cover/handover due to illness or symptoms

  • Need to budget for more swings/covers in cast, as well as cover staff for SM and other roles.
  • Rigorous practices regarding paperwork and documentation will be necessary so that if you become ill someone else can pick up your role easily.
  • Ideally not having understudies in the room – look to dance sector’s practice of recording rehearsals.

*AOB

  • Suggestion of a working group to clearly lay out the minutiae of SM role and what needs to be adapted to allow for C19. Need to proactive in defining how the role will fit into a post-C19 production model. Opportunity to create a base-line for the role, and standardise practices across the country, before we get back into rehearsal rooms.
  • A major consideration is knowledge and skills retention, because with the lack of work on scaled back productions the possibility of losing freelancers from the industry is a real possibility. At the moment it is about survival, and people need to just pay their bills. EPIC group are lobbying for the extension of the C19 payment. Recognition that it is a skilled workforce that needs support to maintain itself through this fall off in activity.
  • Events industry census: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScuKD7klcnWP9q6fIdx7QPhzx9Sk4ONVZGn3VY8TIlc8Iwomw/viewform
  • Lobby/working group and census site: epicwg.com
  • Follow up meeting in a couple of weeks, once ideas have been discussed in the forum.
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