Chapter: Scheduling | Five-Day Rehearsal Week Contracts, Negotiation, & Execution

The outline for the five day rehearsal week already exists in the AEA Production contract under 58D1a:


  • (D) Rehearsal Hours, Breaks and Overtime. (See also Rule 50(A)(3),PERFORMANCES, and Rule 61, REST PERIODS AND DAYS OFF.)

  • (1) Rehearsal Hours. (a) Prior to First Paid Public Performance. Except for the final seven days of rehearsal prior to the first paid public performance, rehearsal hours shall not exceed seven out of eight and one-half consecutive hours per day (including breaks required by Rule 58(D)(2)(a) below). However, Producer may elect, at Producer's sole option, to rehearse eight out of nine and one-half consecutive hours per day in lieu of the seven out of eight and one-half hour schedule provided the Actors receive two days off in each week. These days off need not be consecutive. If the Producer elects a five-day schedule, pro-rated calculations shall be made in fifths for partial weeks. The Producer will be entitled to switch schedules only twice during the permitted rehearsal period. The Actors must receive at least one week's notice for any such change in schedule.


The Five Day Rehearsal Week is available for anyone to use. The occurrence is rare reportedly due to lack of knowledge of its existence or fear of creating with reduced hours. However, in our case study for the Radical Parent-Inclusion Project and through multiple interviews with individuals who have produced under the Five Day Rehearsal Week, the process receives positive reviews, not only in efficiency and productivity, but also in artistic results.


ON DAYS OFF


Days off need not be consecutive, and considering what days to choose, Saturday + Sunday is useful to create a weekend, and Sunday + Monday can allow for a weekend day as well as weekday for doctor appointments, bank needs, and other life responsibilities not available on standard weekend days.


HOW TO USE A 5 DAY REHEARSAL WEEK


All Contracts are Eligible: A Five Day Rehearsal Week is available to anyone on any contract by scheduling it that way within hourly and weekly allotted hours.


Distribute Allotted Daily and Weekly Hours Over Five Days: You may choose to use some longer days (many contracts allow for 7/8.5 or 7/9 hour days, Production allows for 8/9.5 as stated above), or you may choose to buy some more hours at the overtime rate to get an amount of rehearsal that makes you comfortable. You will be increasing the hourly value for the artists by contracting on a six-day rehearsal schedule and calling for five.


Check Your Overtime Requirements: Some contracts require overtime (OT) for hours over the daily call, some require OT for hours over the weekly call, and some require both. Make sure you know what your contract requires as you budgeting.


Run Straight-6 Hour Days on a Five Day Week: This rhythm was used in the RPI Project (see breakdown). The schedule is the ideal for many small to mid-size productions. In the RPI Project, because the production was a new play and the first for the institution running on a five-day rehearsal schedule, an additional rehearsal week (also consisting of five days) was added to the production calendar, though it is not required or necessary for all productions.


Call Your Rep: Think about ways to partner with the union on a Five Day Rehearsal Week as you negotiate to make your workplaces better-suited to working parents and more humane for all contributing artists.


WHO USES IT


In interviews with professionals who utilize the Five Day Rehearsal Week, the reasons range from engaging in more ethical, humane scheduling to improving productivity and results. In many artists experience, the rehearsal structure elevates the quality of work in the rehearsal room as the pace allows for sustaining high productivity without burnout, increases of benefits regarding hourly value for artist payment, and increases time spent on preparation outside of the room.


Detroit Public Theatre, The Playwrights Realm (Radical Parent-Inclusion Project), production stage managers Amanda Spooner, Christine Daly, and Lindsey Turteltaub, as well as director Patricia McGregor have all contributed extended interviews in favor of their professional experience using the five day rehearsal week. In addition to these established professionals, countless other artists have used the Five Day Rehearsal Week successfully.


(coming soon) Jump to Interviews >>>


The Five-Day Rehearsal Week was used in our PAAL Handbook case study The Radical Parent-Inclusion Project (RPI) created with The Playwrights Realm for their off-Broadway production of Mothers by Anna Moench.


(coming soon) Jump to RPI Five-Day Workweek Breakdown >>>


"Even though it seems like you may lose a day of rehearsal, what you gain makes for a better week that directly benefits the production and company members."

- Katherine Nelson Hanley, Resident Stage Manager | Detroit Public Theatre


OBSTACLES & SOLUTIONS


LEADERSHIP BUY IN

Even more than the tangible obstacles, the most commonly reported barrier against utilizing the Five Day Rehearsal Week has been resistance from producers and/or artistic directors due to doubt or skepticism.


Director Patricia McGregor, member of PAAL's advisory board and executor of the Five Day Rehearsal Week multiple times to great acclaim, advises producers and directors who hesitate to utilize the five day workweek that if you trust a director with the task of manifesting a professional production with excellence and that director believes the Five Day Rehearsal Week is the structure that will fulfill that task, then that director deserves your support: "At the end of the day, it’s about trust: you’ve got to trust that I know how to get the ship to shore."


FINANCIAL ADJUSTMENT

If the producer/theatre insists on having the lost hours, then the option of adding a week will cost in terms of salaries (and potentially space). Adding hours can cost in overtime both daily/weekly, but may be less than an entire salary. Overtime hours may be preferable to an entire extra week because of space rental, etc.

However, grant funding or support can go directly to this week when the goal and its benefits are communicated clearly.


DIRECTOR BUY IN

In the rare case that the Five Day Rehearsal Week comes from the administration over the director, the success will lie largely in the director's comfort, willingness, and execution of the pace of a Five Day Rehearsal Week.


BENEFITS


The Five Day Rehearsal Week benefits all contributors - not just those with families. For artists with families, specifically, the cost of childcare, relationship opportunities, and logistical balance improves drastically with just the addition of one day off more. For all artists, the benefits elevate exponentially compared to the bottom-line cost.

  • PRODUCTION/STAGE MANAGEMENT BENEFITS: Six day rehearsal weeks with eight hour days for performers are seven day rehearsal weeks with ten hour days for production stage management/stage management teams. By contrast, with the Five Day Rehearsal Week, the team responsible for running all aspects of the production and maintaining communication with all departments receives time to excel, time to maintain health, and time to plan upcoming tasks more efficiently.

  • ARTISTIC DIRECTOR BENEFITS: For artistic directors while directing shows, this schedule allows for more efficient distribution of time split between administrative duties and production duties.

  • PERFORMER BENEFITS: When there are five days of rehearsal and two days off, performers schedule errands, auditions, and life responsibilities such as doctor appointments, etc. with more flexibility that helps reduce conflicts and increase work morale.

  • FINANCIAL BENEFITS: (1) The hourly value can conversely increase for the employee if the theatre does not take the pro-rated fifth. This strategy increases the pay for the employee without raising the financial cost in salaries for the theatre/producer. (2) For artists with children, a day fewer that needs to be scheduled or paid for in terms of childcare is a huge asset. Especially for adults with school-age children, when rehearsal spans into the weekend, full day childcare becomes necessary and is both logistically and financially exorbitant; (3) For artists with elder care responsibilities, the additional day off allows for reduced cost of care, time with dependent, and/or time away as needed.

  • EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS (NON-FINANCIAL): Improved work-life balance; opportunities for networking, seeking next employment; improved relationships; emotional fulfillment; time for inspiration to create.

  • REHEARSAL PRODUCTIVITY BENEFITS: Performers come to rehearsal better rested, prepared, and focused. Increased company morale, energy, resources, focus, and preparation. "They make such a difference in quality of life in a way that directly manifests into more productive and better creative work." - Katherine Nelson Hanley, Resident Stage Manager

  • EMPLOYEE HEALTH BENEFITS: time for rest, especially that includes separation from the workspace, contributes to improved mental health and support; sustainable pace of rehearsal better sustains energy and physical resources leading into the demands of tech, previews, and performance; more human time off can reduce injury and improve bounce-back. "Giving folk time to rest properly and marinate on what happened in the rehearsal room seems to up creativity and cut down on illness." - Jessi Cotter, Stage Manager

  • RESULTING PRODUCTION BENEFITS: higher energy; improved management support; better prepared; increased alertness entering tech and previews; improved performance in production.

"Instead of being reactive and following a trend, we need to see this as an opportunity to be a leader [as a field] in how collectives should work."

- Patricia McGregor, Director

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