When the posties decided they didn’t want deliver letters to our doors at a stupidly early time of the morning they went on strike. So I am wondering how long it would take until actors and crew go on strike for better hours, pay and benefits.
In 2016 Transport for London announced that the Tubes could start operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In response to this the West End Theatres announced that they would consider starting performances later. Now just because public transport has made itself available for longer hours it doesn’t mean every other business needs to change operation times, does it?
I could completely understand if this move was going affect audiences getting to the venue for the start of the performance, but in this case there is no bearing on that as the hours are being extended and not changed. Also unlike bars and clubs, theatre is not something you attend every night, it’s usually a treat, like the cinema when there’s a movie you really want to watch, you don’t just go every night as you would quickly see all the movies and would then have nothing to look forward too.
So do we really need later performances?
Running a film on the big screen is much different from live theatre as the only people affected are the viewers and those contracted to work those hours for the company, the actors get paid for every time you show the movie, but they are already tucked up in their beds or out partying or seeing another premiere, as their work for the project was completed many months before.
Theatre is a different kettle of fish, by making performance start later it means that audiences get home later and they don’t all stop in London after a show. Those who do often like to do the social thing after the performance, as they know that their own behaviour after consuming alcohol would not be acceptable in a theatre, therefore choosing to do so between the end of the performance and heading back to their hotels, so this time is reduced along with the income for the businesses they support during those small hours as already mentioned those who travelled in, it’s a treat so they would have made a day of it as they will be heading home the day after, and not being able to see the London night life could ruin the whole experience.
It will also affect the actors, whereby many have chosen the life of working late or nights means that a social life can be already be rare, but to be finishing work past midnight is not pleasant in any profession and it should only be required if absolutely necessary and public transport working later is not one of them, remembering that forwarding connections for public transport may not be follow the same idea as the underground.
It also begs the question of pay – will it mean that actors need ‘night rate’ for working later into the night and unsociable hours like any other industry that has similar hours of work? Plus there aren’t that many child minders who don’t charge a night rate or higher rate for after midnight.
The only exemption to this idea would possibly be new works where it is shorter than the West End’s big musicals. So the notion affects a lot of people not just those money grabbers at the top of the industry or the members of the public who currently can’t get off work earlier enough. The important people we should be thinking of are those who actually working on and backstage during the hours of a performance, they want to entertain you, but should they be forced into working later at night?