Firstly I haven't done a long touring contract with this company so I can't speak to that experience. I have however worked for them two summers in a row doing their shorter summer contract through "Shakespeare On The Shoreline".
I graduated with my MFA in Classical Acting from a great school in London and found my first Shakespeare work with Shakespearience the following summer and had a blast working for them on "Comedy Of Errors" . I loved working with the director of the company who is incredibly knowledgable and really learned a lot through the process. I had a similarly great experience this past summer on my second time around with them as well.
If you want to work on your classical chops and care about doing good work grounded in the text, I would say go for it and work for them. I did and I don't regret it at all.
Here are the basics:
Very long hours - often 12 hours a day
Low pay that seems to get lower every year
No transportation that isn't 100% work-related (not even to a grocery store or laundromat)
Dirty housing in a sketchy neighborhood a mile from the studio space, since old (closer) housing had bedbugs
No extra pay for additional performances, which can be added at any time
Although I had some good times here, experienced tremendous growth as an artist, and forged life-long friendships, this company is a prime example of why unions for actors exist. The contract, as written, offers the artists little to no protection and gives the company nearly absolute power, which they can and have taken advantage of.
Dido to everything that is said here. RUN!!! Never have I worked in a place where I was disrespected and under-treated. I am not a diva at all, but they abuse their actors, and you often are working 12+ hour days, 5-6 days a week, and when you do the math, you are literally making a lot less than minimum wage.
Now, I do not mind hard work, but they literally take advantage of you. When you are not acting, or rehearsing, you can be shleping stuff around the studio, cleaning, doing their costume laundry, etc.
Additionally, they treat you like less than a child. They have this HORRIBLE "stage/education manager" who has NO business doing anything in the theatre. She will talk to you like you're an idiot. Additionally, what somebody else posted, the Artistic Director literally whispers to her stage manager the notes while she is right in front of you, and then the stage manager will read them to you. WTF?! Grow some balls, and talk to us like your fellow collaborators. There is SOOO much red tape for this theatre that is literally a "mom and pops" set up.
I can go on and on and on................
the above poster is correct in everything they said. the pay is super insulting and the artistic directors have signed off on "grants" that they claimed would go to some artists who helped with the set, painting, etc. but they pocketed that money.
The town itself is super sketchy, which doesn't mean the theatre is bad, but it's definitely something to think about before you accept any offer since you'll probably be living there for a little while. While the director is incredibly passionate about Sheakespeare, and you may learn a lot if you've not performed a lot of Shakespeare, she does not have confidence in telling actors what to do. She has the (incredibly horrible) stage manager do all of her dirty work and it shows. There's really not much of a contract and the people in charge can add or take away hours at their will without so much as blinking or considering their actors' health. All in all, if you can find a better gig, or even stay in New York and make more money at your day job, don't work here. This would be a great program for actors JUST out of school or still in school, but to call it professional? absolutely not.
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