On May 26th, Actors’ Equity Association, usually just referred to as Equity, the union for theatre actors and stage managers across the country, recently announced that theater in America should not resume until there is fast, reliable testing for the novel coronavirus and widespread contact tracing.
Equity has hired Dr. David Michaels, former head of OSHA during the Obama Administration, to assist them with developing a list of conditions under which its members will return to work.
They are beginning with four core principles. “These four principles are the foundation for our continued work with Dr. Michaels,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “We intend to build out protocols that can be used by our employers and all of our colleagues to insure that everyone who works in the theatre has the safest workplace possible.” The four principles are:
- The epidemic must be under control, with effective testing, few new cases in the area and contact tracing.
- Individuals who may be infectious can be readily identified and isolated, with frequent, regular and accurate testing with speedy results.
- The way we audition, rehearse, perform and stage manage may need to change and the venues we work in may need to undergo changes in order to reduce the risk.
- Efforts to control COVID-19 exposure must be collaborative, involving Equity members, employers, the union and all others involved in the production of theatre. There must be collective buy-in and ongoing evaluation and improvement of health and safety practices.
You can read the press announcement on the Equity web site and an article in New York Times. An additional article in the Times talks to theatre owners and producers about when they expect to reopen. Unfortunately, most of them don’t see theatres being able to reopen this year in a way that is both responsible and profitable.