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Tech Week and 10/12s: Adjust and Abolish

"The title 10 Out of 12 refers to an Equity mandate that says that when actors are called in for 12 hours of tech rehearsal, they can only work 10 of those hours."*

- ’10 Out of 12′: How the Other Half Techs at SoHo Rep, American Theatre Magazine

*PAAL feels compelled to note here that Equity is a union for both actors and stage managers.


"Epidemiological studies have shown the negative effects of long working hours on the risks of cardiovascular diseases; chronic fatigue, stress; depressive state, anxiety, sleep quality, all-cause mortality, alcohol use and smoking; and self-perceived health, mental health status, hypertension, and health behaviours."

- The Effect of Long Working Hours and Overtime on Occupational Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)


"...Technicians actually have a heavier schedule, working 12 out of 14."

- ’10 Out of 12′: How the Other Half Techs at SoHo Rep, American Theatre Magazine


"Those working less than 7 h per day or more than 11 h per day were at greater risk of experiencing myocardial infarction than with those working 7 to 11 h...Further, a study found that working 12 or more hours per day and 60 or more hours per week increased the risk of occupational injury."

- The Effect of Long Working Hours and Overtime on Occupational Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)


"If your job relies on interpersonal communication, making judgment calls, reading other people’s faces, or managing your own emotional reactions — pretty much all things that the modern office requires — I have more bad news. Researchers have found that overwork (and its accompanying stress and exhaustion) can make all of these things more difficult."

- Harvard Business Review


Because the 10/12 rule is dictated by an Equity mandate, the industry has accepted its restrictions as standard practice and acceptable as long as the actors do not pass the 10 hours.

The inherent problem of this standard of acceptability in rehearsal scheduling is that it centers the actors as the determinant of equity and impact when they are often the individuals called for the fewest hours, even at 10 hours.

If the discipline that is called the least amount of hours is the standard for "maximum healthy hours allowed," that ensures that every other discipline will pass that "healthy marker" by nature of the jobs required, i.e. stage managers, designers, directors, technicians, wardrobe, crew, et al.

In addition to the "surrounding disciplines" - those outside the mandate - passing that arbitrary "healthy marker" beyond the 10 hour actor call, the majority of these disciplines work primarily and/or exclusively during tech week, meaning tech week isn't an infrequent event from which to recover. For many disciplines, such as designers, sustaining unhealthy hours isn't one of the weeks in a job - it is the job almost entirely.

Because we allowed the least impacted to be the standard-bearers of time, we have ensured that the labor and endangerment of the "surrounding disciplines" remain: invisible, accepted, and oppressive.


  • Re-center the assessment of daily hours spent during tech week for a production away from the AEA mandate and center instead the disciplines and individuals who arrive first and leave last.

  • Reduce the arrive-first, leave-last disciplines to no more than 10 hours, 8 preferred. (10 hours being the max allowed before damage to individual health, 8 being the daily allotment to maintain the 40 hour work week productivity level).

  • Adjust calls accordingly for all disciplines to work and thrive within the health-centered, more equitable call times.


Katherine Nelson, resident stage manager of Detroit Public Theatre, has shared her experience working 5-day rehearsal schedules and reduced tech week hours. The productivity, she asserts, is higher in the rooms where space is made for rest, reset, recharge, and time with the material outside of the room. Director Patricia McGregor parallels the advocacy for more humane work schedule hours with the labor movement and the rights to work in safe and sustainable environments. She has personally directed productions without 10/12s in her tech weeks, some moving on to win awards, and each production she identified the increased ease with which the company contributed to tech week in those cases.

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