Performers will continue to be exploited by theatre companies, directors, choreographers and film makers as long as we accept the idea that it is ok to work for free, for exposure, experience, travel, the thrill, or other forms of payment that don’t involve money.
The demeaning, financially crippling conditions accepted in the theatre world, are undeniably disempowering for the performer. We are constantly reminded that there is not enough money or parts to go around. If we want to keep up, we have to be willing to lower our standards because someone else is prepared to do more for less. Even the most forward thinking directors capitalise on this.
More and more interns are cast in professional performances because they work for little or no pay. This decreases the value of what we do. It decreases what professionals can charge, and the standard of our work conditions. It perpetuates the idea that performers should not expect to excel both creatively and financially, and supports the toxic notion that poverty / sacrifice and authenticity are synonymous. They are not, and there are destructive consequences that come from teaching students and treating professionals as if they are.
The open letter to Jan Fabre describes certain situations of power abuse. It is Jan’s personal responsibility to address the specifics of those accusations, not the performer’s. Boycotting his performances as my personal stand against power abuse, feels like an empty gesture because the general problem of power abuse is systemic and we are all implicated.
Maria Dafneros
February 6th, 2019