CMU School of Drama

Friday, March 17, 2017

Theatre as Family, or Pumping Across America

HowlRound: There are a lot of really amazing benefits to being a salaried playwright in residence with a theatre, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a specific benefit: maternity leave. This is theoretical because I’m done having kids, I have three, I’m so done, but I’ve been thinking about what a complex puzzle it was at the time, and how different it would have been if I had been an artist on salary versus a freelancer.

6 comments:

Taylor Steck said...

I'm glad to see and to have read that the author of this article had found and was working in such a supportive theatre environment when she began to pursue starting to have a family, but this article also brings up the question of what would have happened if she hadn't been working in such an understanding and supportive environment? I'm curious to learn more about the implications faced by women and families who aren't as lucky and what that means for their careers. The contents of this article also bring to light and arise the issue of maternity leave in America as a whole, and the problems faced by many new mothers or fathers because of the fact that the United States is one of the only countries to not have paid maternity leave. It also makes me more curious about the difficulties mentioned in this article and how they relate to the lifestyle of designers considering the author was writing from the perspective of an actress and playwright.

Emily Lawrence said...

This article was very fascinating to read, especially since there have been a lot of issues surrounding breast feeding. I am thankful to work in an industry where things like this are accepted, but it also seems like this should not be happening. Maternity leave is desired not simply to be able to take time off, but to attend to the desire to take care of and raise children. I had not thought about how difficult it would be for actresses to sustain a job while taking care of a baby at the same time, and this article brought this issue forward. This article helps highlight the issue of paid maternity leave not only for actresses, but for women all over the country. I would have loved to read about maternity leave and how it is handled if the mother is a freelance actress. I can only imagine that it would be impossible to receive any jobs during that time. Paid maternity leave is a huge issue in the United States, and it needs to be fought for more so that stories like this become less common.

Sarah Battaglia said...

Breast feeding in general is a topic that gets a lot of attention for no reason, and I could write a giant comment about how stupid it was that we even care about women doing that because they are feeding children and that is what our bodies do and there is nothing we can control about that. For some reason people are more offended by women breast feeding than they are with nude magazines that hang out in groceries stores. It is a huge puzzle to me and I cant understand why so many people feel that way. The only thing that I can think about is that the reason we can only be nude in certain situations because the ways we can be nude are only when it is for the benefit of men. Nude magazines are for the benefit of men, and that is why we are allowed to be naked in that setting but not in the breast feeding setting. When it comes to this article, I am happy that this women found a place that was so great for her, and I hope one day we are all so lucky but honestly it doesn't matter at all until ever women can feel that way. Women have to be comfortable every where we go, and it shouldn't be article worthy if they finally are.

Megan Jones said...

I was actually talking to my mom about maternity leave the other day when I was home with my family. I grew up in Wales, and their maternity leave policy is much better than it is in the US. She told me that without paid maternity leave she would not have had enough money to support our family when my sister and I were born. The fact that the US does not allow a woman to take off any paid time for maternity is honestly disgusting. Women are forced to go back to work much earlier than they feel comfortable with simply because they can't pay their bills. In the arts it seems like its even harder to try and take any type of maternity leave. Kapil mentioned that she had to perform a few weeks after her child was born just to try and keep her health insurance. Even though she's now in a residency with a stable salary and benefits this is not a luxury that most people have. I know that I personally never want children, but it's very disappointing that even today it would be extremely difficult for a woman in our business to simply take some time off to care for her baby.

John Yoerger said...

This is something pretty interesting that I haven't really thought about. I'm certainly enticed to do a bit more research on maternity leave and how the various unions handle that. This reminds me of the lawsuit that the producers filed against Shuffle Along's insurance when Audra McDonnald had to leave the show because she was having a baby. I'm certainly not worried about Audra as her extravagant career has likely helped her to cover those pregnancy and childhood expenses... but it does seem like there should be more protections for theater artists to not have to worry about these sort of things. I almost wonder if an independent theatre insurance company should be established. If all theater artists are apart of it, then they'll have a strong enough network to support the artists through things like pregnancy. But perhaps on a more local scale, this reminds me why I am only interested in Commercial Theatre for that salaried stable paycheck. I want to do other cool, innovative theatre, but not until I've got financial stability and paid off these expensive Carnegie Mellon loans. :)

Antonio Ferron said...

This article leaves me with such conflicting emotions. On one hand, I'm so happy to be working in an industry that is so understanding and considerate. This is one of the main reasons why I love theatre people. I don't believe it's worth it to work for a company, especially a theater company, that does not treat it's employees and artists with the respect and understanding they deserve. Nothing we do works if we don't collaborate and adapt fluidly with one another. On the other hand, this article really brings up some of the primary concerns of many people who commit to a professional career in the entertainment industry. Outside of some alterations to equity specification, I'm not exactly sure how we can alleviate these kinds of financial concerns for artists. The nature of this industry just doesn't lend to many people obtaining salaried positions, so some kind of alternative system for providing pregnant women in these fields with resources they need has to be put into place. It's surprising to learn that Equity hasn't looked deeper into this. In any case, one thing I do know is that cutting funding for the arts definitely won't be helping these situations.

Pics from CMU Drama