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Case Studies (4): Actual Rehearsal Schedules Used for Nursing/Pumping

SAMPLE A: “The 5 and 20”

Contributor: Grace Zottig, Stage Manager

Production: A Doll House


Potential Rehearsal Day Use: 6 hour, 8 hour, extended days (tech, previews, etc)


Rhythm: [55 minutes on + 5 min break + 80 minutes on + 20 min break], repeat pattern.


Production Benefits:

  • Potential to work for any discipline in the room.

  • Breaks are the same for all rehearsal participants.

  • No staggered release or return calls.

  • Breastfeeding/Pumping parent receives time to pump as well as self-care breaks evenly throughout the day.

  • Breastfeeding/pump breaks scheduled on a rhythm that is appropriate for most lactation rhythms while keeping rehearsal breaks consistent.

  • Breaks potentially work for any rehearsal length of day.

  • Breaks potentially work for breastfeeding/pumping artist in any discipline.


From the Contributor:

“We never had more than a 5 hour block, and I always touched base with her at the top of the day of the breaks worked out with the rest of her day. The rest of the cast loved a long snack break.”


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SAMPLE B: “The 20 Plus 10”

Contributor: Emily Calderwood Rolston, Stage Manager


Potential Rehearsal Day Use: 6 hour, some extended days (tech, previews, etc)


Rhythm: [80 minutes on + 20 min break + 5-10 min allowance for parent only; other contributors resume after 20 min break]


Production Benefits:

  • Staggered call can allow for standard rehearsal time used, integrating the breastfeeding/pumping artist into the action when they return.

  • Great for pieces that have various sections or character explorations that are easily delineated. (Ideal with at least one ASM.)

  • Staggering for different disciplines:

    • Director pumping: SM brings actors back and runs rehearsal for 5-10 minutes.

    • Stage Manager pumping: ASM/PM/Director run top of rehearsal for 5-10 minutes.

    • Actor: Other moments worked or notes addressed with other cast for 5-10 minutes. Stand-in can be used as necessary in place.

    • Designer: Actor notes/other designer notes at top of return for 5-10 minutes.*

  • Creates humane break for breastfeeding/pumping artist while allowing the room to keep steady rhythm.

  • Allows breastfeeding/pumping artist to have agency over timing and return.

  • Breastfeeding/Pumping parent receives time to pump as well as self-care breaks evenly throughout the day.

  • Breastfeeding/pump breaks scheduled on a rhythm that is appropriate for most lactation rhythms while keeping rehearsal breaks consistent.

  • Breaks potentially work for breastfeeding/pumping artist in any discipline.


From the Contributor:

“I am of the opinion that we can create good work within the allotted time no matter what, so it definitely didn’t take away from the final product. I’d rather treat people kindly than push them to rush unrushable things.” - Emily Calderwood Rolston, Stage Manager


*Designer example contributed by lighting designer Porsche McGovern.


Additional Support for this Rhythm:

“The room was very welcoming. I had my son with me all the time so that helped. It gave my asm opportunities to show she’s also a great resource. I was actually pregnant when I was hired to be the PSM and the artistic director was very clear I could take whatever time I needed during rehearsals and whatnot because, in his words, I’m mom first.” - Cynthia Reid, Stage Manager


“We had an artist who needed to pump during rehearsals so we set aside a room in the wardrobe area where she could go and were just conscious of it as we were scheduling. Occasionally we would need to take a break slightly early or extend a break slightly, but it wasn’t difficult to accommodate.” - Adam M. Fulmer, Stage Manager


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SAMPLE C: “2 solid 20s”

Contributor: Erin Gioia Albrecht, Stage Manager; Purva Bedi, Actor


Potential Rehearsal Day Use: 6 hour, 8 hour


Rhythm: [80 minutes on + 20 min break], repeat pattern.*


*This rhythm works for a breastfeeding/pumping artist who is producing a low amount regularly and needs less time; usually this applies to artists with older babies late in their feeding timeline. Only to be used for an artist who needs a maximum 10-15 minutes to breastfeed/pump - including set up and take down so that the remainder of time is used on self-care that is allotted to all contributors. This timeframe can only be dictated by some individual biologies and cannot be forced or assumed on any artist. It can work for a selection of breastfeeding/pumping artists.


Production Benefits:

  • Keeps standard work to break rhythm.

  • Reduces time for breastfeeding/pumping parent in the rehearsal process over all.

  • Requires pumping space to be in the room itself or in immediate proximity.

  • Breastfeeding/pump breaks shorter due to allowance of breastfeeding/pumping biology.

  • Breaks potentially work for breastfeeding/pumping artist in any discipline.


From the Contributor:

“We had a small company and ran this option by everyone before implementing it. They were all amenable and it worked very well! Tech became a little harder to schedule, but we usually jumped to something the actor wasn't in, or had someone stand in for her in the 10 minutes longer it took for her to be ready onstage after a 10-minute break.”


“During rehearsals I would have either my ASM or the AD be in charge of calling folks back from breaks and since I had made the company aware of the reasons for that on day one everyone was really respectful. Tech was always tricky, but I started to call the breaks so we would be set up for what we would be working afterwards, something along the lines of "Alright folks we're going to take a ten and when we come back we will get into positions for the top of the party so lighting can continue to adjust the look" and then the PM would make the call back and remind everyone where we were picking up so that I could buy a few extra minutes and it helped a lot.” - Marley Giggey, Stage Manager


“On my current show our director had a new born. We occasionally took a 15’s so she could pump. The PM created a baby space adjacent to the rehearsal room with a fridge, a crib, and rocking chair. This worked seamlessly.” - R. Christopher Maxwell


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SAMPLE D: “The Solid 30”

Contributor: Purva Bedi, Actor


Potential Rehearsal Day Use: 6 hour, 8 hour, some extended days (tech, previews, etc)


Rhythm: [80 minutes on + 30 min break], repeat pattern.*


*Full 30 minute breaks create more accessible and humane opportunities particularly for new parents who have more to breastfeed/pump more frequently and at times in more amounts or with more deliberation to achieve necessary amounts of lactation. Getting water and food is essential while breastfeeding/pumping, especially earlier on the lactation timeline.


Production Benefits:

  • Allows for solid breaks for all contributors to make space for casts with diverse access needs that can be addressed simultaneously.

  • Break distribution works for all disciplines. Staggered individual work can be coordinated within the break time.

    • Director: Actors and stage manager can do brief fittings, prop reviews, etc. in the room.

    • Stage Manager: Director and actors review character notes; director and designers engage in brief notes conversations.

    • Actor: director and stage manager can coordinate notes with each other, designers, etc.

    • Designer: Director and stage manager engage with actors on character/scene notes, etc.

  • Ideal for straight 6 hour days so that longer break doesn’t make extended day feel like time has been left empty.

  • Creates humane break for breastfeeding/pumping artist who may have distance to travel to the lactation space and/or physical reasons for increased time in the lactation room.

  • Allows breastfeeding/pumping artist to engage on the same rhythm as other contributors.

  • Breastfeeding/Pumping parent receives time to pump as well as self-care breaks evenly throughout the day.


From the Contributor:

“If they’re willing to make the 20 a 30 in a straight 6, then you’re golden”



SAMPLE D: “Before-Mid-Before”

Contributor: Purva Bedi, Actor


Potential Rehearsal Day Use: 6 hour, 8 hour, some extended days (tech, previews, etc)


Rhythm: [80 minutes on + 30 min break], repeat pattern.*


*Full 30 minute breaks create more accessible and humane opportunities particularly for new parents who have more to breastfeed/pump more frequently and at times in more amounts or with more deliberation to achieve necessary amounts of lactation. Getting water and food is essential while breastfeeding/pumping, especially earlier on the lactation timeline.


Production Benefits:

  • Allows for solid breaks for all contributors to make space for casts with diverse access needs that can be addressed simultaneously.

  • Break distribution works for all disciplines. Staggered individual work can be coordinated within the break time.

    • Director: Actors and stage manager can do brief fittings, prop reviews, etc. in the room.

    • Stage Manager: Director and actors review character notes; director and designers engage in brief notes conversations.

    • Actor: director and stage manager can coordinate notes with each other, designers, etc.

    • Designer: Director and stage manager engage with actors on character/scene notes, etc.

  • Ideal for straight 6 hour days so that longer break doesn’t make extended day feel like time has been left empty.

  • Creates humane break for breastfeeding/pumping artist who may have distance to travel to the lactation space and/or physical reasons for increased time in the lactation room.

  • Allows breastfeeding/pumping artist to engage on the same rhythm as other contributors.

  • Breastfeeding/Pumping parent receives time to pump as well as self-care breaks evenly throughout the day.


From the Contributor:

“If they’re willing to make the 20 a 30 in a straight 6, then you’re golden”


Additional Support for this Rhythm:

“During shows, I would pump before the show and then I would hook myself up at intermission and pump during Act 2. During tech, I asked my LDs at the tables if they were comfortable with it, and they all were (most were parents, so they understood) and we just kept on trucking. I carried a small cooler with me to put milk in at the table and then would transfer it to the fridge at breaks.” - Cecilia Lighthall, Stage Manager


“I don’t think anyone has mentioned bringing the baby to work/ or having a caregiver bring the baby! My wife was a stay at home and brought him during dinner breaks.” - Cassie Calderone, Stage Manager


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