Theatre Ambassadors

 

Noma Dumezweni, Actor

 

 


 

 

Romola Garai, Actor

 


Charlene Ford, Actor

“Being a performer in musical theatre with a career that has been mainly made up of ensemble roles is tough. The nature of the work means going from audition to audition and job to job. Then all of a sudden you find yourself in your early 30s, married and wanting to start a family. It’s daunting.  What’s surprising is that there are still so few female working mums in the industry, especially in Musical Theatre. The simple reason is that as parents we struggle to get the options other industries commonly provide. When falling pregnant on my current contract, I was initially worried this would be the end of my career. Thankfully though determination , support from the company and my maternity cover I was able to return to work after 6 months on a job share basis. I feel so honoured to be an ambassador for PiPA, who are working to promote change within the arts. Change is happening.”

 

 

Hadley Fraser, Actor

“I’m delighted to be joining PIPA’s campaign to support parents and carers in the  performing arts industry. It’s only by opening up an industry-wide conversation about  the challenges that performing parents face that these issues can be successfully addressed and confronted. PIPA has already been fundamental in engaging theatres,  producers and employers in that conversation – I know to my own benefit – and so to be able to amplify the message and add my voice to the dialogue is a matter of great  personal importance. Since my daughter was born I’ve felt keenly the needs of performing parents – out-of-hours childcare, an ever-changing schedule, compounded by financial instability. The more that issues like these are a regular part of contractual  and professional understanding, the less of a challenge they’ll represent. I’m incredibly proud to be a PIPA Ambassador.”


 

Lisa McGrillis, Actor

Kelly McGrillis

“Being an actress can be challenging at the best of times, but throw a baby into the  equation and it can feel like an impossible sum. In such an incredibly competitive industry, dropping the ball and making yourself unavailable so you can have a baby, can feel daunting. Especially if you are in your 30’s when parts are more limited than they were when you looked more youthful. And for me, that over bearing feeling of,  I’m not where I want to be, I don’t feel established enough to take a break. I’ll just do one more job and then we’ll try for one… it’s never the right time and these pressures only add to  any

 

 

 


 

 

Rufus Norris, Artistic Director, National Theatre

“Having raised two children whilst working as a director in the UK and abroad, I am aware of how the industry need to become more flexible for parents. My partner and  I were both freelance and juggled childcare around each of our working lives. At times we, like many others, have had to compromise that balance within a competitive system that inevitably favours those without responsibilities outside their careers. We work in an industry with antisocial hours and it will take commitment to implement change but opening up this dialogue is essential. In time  we have to create an environment that accommodates working families.”

 

 


 

Kate Varah, Executive Director, The Old Vic

 “The imperative to create an inclusive, accessible industry which promotes the diversity of our workforce feels more essential now than ever. PiPA is engaged in finding a practical and compelling approach to promoting flexible working in the arts. The work of PiPA will have a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of parents and carers working across the  performing arts, and on wider perceptions of them doing so.”

 


Alastair Coomer, Head of Casting, National Theatre

Alastair-Coomer

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rakie Ayola, Actor

“Having had experience of auditioning whilst pregnant, breast feeding in a corner of the rehearsal room, expressing milk whilst in a make-up chair, trawling through my contacts to find available child care, warming up with my child by my side, missing way too many birthday parties, school plays and sports days, I’m more than willing to add my voice to PiPA’s campaign to ensure the work /life balance of the parents and careers amongst us becomes a major consideration when either discussing working practise or when drawing up company policy.”


Anna Fleischle, Designer

“The early years of having children were a dark place for me. My path was not straight forward – after having made a good place for myself, once I had children my career was literally over. People did not trust a designer who also had childcare to think about. 

What threw me when I first had children was the incapacitation. The paradox that the moment you are given the most serious responsibility of your lifetime, the industry treats you as if you can’t be given responsibility anymore – you are not to be trusted. Colleagues would explain to me why they thought I could not do a job – that it would be too much for me – as if I could not judge my capabilities myself anymore. It is paralysing – it made me furious. I had to re-build my sense of self again outside the industry before I could return. My way back into the industry was a long and slow path and I still think that the industry would have lost me as an artist had my anger of the injustice not made me into such a fighter. 


I still meet countless young female designers who believe they have to choose between having a career or family. It is only now that I have gained a solid position within the industry that I feel able to voice what I need. I now voice things loud and clear because I know that if I don’t do it nothing will change. I feel responsible for the younger members of my profession and I promised myself in the bad times that should I ever get to a better place I would fight for better conditions so when I heard about PiPA, I just knew I had to be part of it.”


Jonny Cotsen, Performance Artist

“I’m excited to be joining PIPA’s campaign to support parents in the performing arts industry. Being profoundly Deaf, I am constantly campaigning for better access and support in the rehearsal space as well as their audiences which has been quite challenging as it is such a tough industry, so when having two young children it feels absolutely impossible and exhausting! I am aware of how the arts sector needs to become more flexible (and accessible) for parents and carers and that we need better support. I think the work of PiPA will have a relevant and positive impact for those that are working across the performing arts to make sure there is a better work/life balance. I want to see change and I am excited to be part of this.”


Coronavirus (COVID-19): Help and Support

PiPA has called for performing arts organisations and the government to consider the medium term needs and risks posed to parents and carers in the sector’s workforce in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. To access our dedicated resources, updates and for further guidance on where to find support...