Gig&Tell: Bright Star Touring Theatre

  • Message for starting Actors and male actors of color 05/04/2018  5:44am

    All though some of the events that are said about this company above are true. It is still a good place to start work in TYA. The hours are long the travel can be stressing however if you walk in with the mindset of having fun, understand that it's not really about you but the children, HAVE IT ALL MEMORIZIED, cone in ready to work,set your ground rules with your acting partner then you're on way. (MUST STAY HUMBLE) SAVE MONEY FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS BEFORE YOU LEAVE!!!!!!!!!

    Now for men of color. My ladies of color you can continue with this post as well if you wish. The areas you will travel to may have you encounter prejudice and racism/systematic racism. This does not come from the company but from the towns and sometimes the actors you will work with. During Bright Star's Black History series, I ended up on the end where my partner was racist and prejudice where she did say the steropyical comments that we all hear like "I have black friends" and the like. DO NOT BE QUIET on this matter. The company will help YOU in this situation. I waited till after my tour was over to say something and it was too late. You work close with your female partner that means you share a space with her as well. State your rules have open discussion with them when you can, and id that doesn't work contact the Bright Star office. Despite the nature of the company they do care about its actors.

  • DO NOT WORK HERE - EVER!    
    04/06/2018  6:23pm

    I went on tour with Bright Star for 2 and 1/2 months in 2017 and I can say with TOTAL conviction that this company is a DISASTER. They are a non-Equity nightmare who should not be in operation. The team of three running Bright Star is abusive, unorganized, and entirely incapable of running a touring theatre company. Bright Star takes advantage of green, young actors, uses and abuses them in order to capitalize upon them, and does not care WHATSOEVER about the impact they are having on both the children they serve or the actors they hire. I documented every single wrong doing, mistake, and concern that I encountered while out on tour and eventually sent them a TEN page Word Doc detailing this information.

    I will spare you all the ten pages of complaints and summarize below. It is still going to be lengthy, though, so beware.

    When I received my contract, I skimmed over it and took note that it was a VERY rigid contract (basically stating that I couldn't slander Bright Star's "good" name or own/manage a touring theatre company for 2 years following the termination date) with NOTHING indicating my job description, no indication of travel pay to/from Asheville or a food per diem, or any rules or regulations that cover me as a human being. This contract (or the contract of my touring partner) did not include "Schedule B" which included Company Policies and Practices. We were told we would receive that in person. Despite all of this, I made the horrendous mistake of trusting my friend that landed me the gig, put my faith into the world of theatre, and signed.

    From there, it was a nightmare.

    For starters, I was asked BY TEXT if I could arrive for rehearsal 2 days sooner than my contract indicated. When I EMAILED back stating that if I received travel pay, I could make this work, I received a nonchalant text back saying "that can't happen." Therefore, I told her I would be there on my contracted date.

    I received my scripts (3 total) about 2 weeks before I was expected to arrive. Luckily, I am a quick memorizer but I had known about this contract for months. The scripts (which are HEINOUSLY written, by the way) could have been distributed sooner.

    Once we arrived for rehearsals, we were given NO copy of "Schedule B." Instead, an employee read it to us in a brisk, rushed fashion the day we were to set out on tour. Then, insurance policies were discussed VERY briefly and we were told to simply skim the fine print and sign if we were remotely interested. That is NO way to discuss insurance and quite honestly seems very sketchy. While we were discussing insurance, I discovered that there was no insurance for injuries on the job. We did not receive our “books” (which told us our travel schedule) until about 10 minutes before we hit the road, and even so, our books were unorganized and unfinished. We were told VERY last minute that we may need to teach “workshops” while on the road, and our “workshop instruction” was minimal and quite frankly, childish. We were not properly told how to handle our van, how to properly handle schools/teachers, how to set up or take down our sets, or how to accommodate sensory friendly locations. In short, I felt ENTIRELY unprepared to go out on the road after just 15 minutes of LOADED and OVERWHELMING instruction.

    Upon receiving our unfinished books, we were told that we were traveling to Houston, TX just one week after Hurricane Harvey hit. I immediately expressed safety concerns and was met with a joking, nonchalant response from an employee of "It might be a little wet, haha!" Thankfully, this show was later cancelled.

    Were told NOT to contact the Bright Star Phone OR staff unless it was an EMERGENCY.

    We also were not informed of our payment correctly. In short, we were paid two weeks later than promised, and over the course of our tour, a "bank error" occurred and we were delayed half of our pay for one week.

    One of my least favorite experiences of this entire tour was our introduction to the van. We were given a white Dodge Grand Caravan (which, on the insurance is listed as a 2009 but EVERY auto center we went to assured us that it was certainly a 2003 or 2004) that was less than ideal. Our van had not been serviced whatsoever (no gas, no oil change, not cleaned [crumbs, coins, and various items EVERYWHERE], tires with minimal traction, no windshield wiper fluid dispenser, windshield wipers that didn’t work properly and had left a large scrape in the windshield glass, no GPS until we demanded it – an employee suggested that we use our phones even though we have data plans that would certainly limit that. In addition, the GPS we were given was COMPLETELY out of date, causing us turmoil on the road DAILY). We received no Insurance card and no "box" of necessities (various items used in shows, to repair/clean costumes, etc.) until just when we were ready to leave. When concerns were expressed about ALL of these things we were met with NO attempt at resolution. We even left and DROVE BACK to express concerns over the lack of windshield wiper fluid dispensing and were met with even less consideration (“use some elbow grease,” was an exact quote from an employee).

    Our hotels the first week on the road were BEYOND last minute, which was agitating, stressful, and unprofessional. It proved to us that hotels were NOT properly researched, examined, and then booked. I could name about 20 hotel experiences over the course of our 2 and 1/2 month tour that left me feeling unsafe, uncomfortable, and disturbed. We even had one very dangerous incident occur to us while in a VERY scary hotel in Louisiana. Upon telling a Bright Star Employee about this incident, they responded with "okay."
    Throughout the rest of tour, our hotels were not given to us until the week of, again detailing the lack of interest in finding safe, accommodating places to stay.

    To our knowledge, there was no “check in” system with schools. Quite a few that we went to had little to no idea as to who we were or why we were there. We even had a HUGE schedule conflict in Kentucky, where our schedule told us to be at a school on one day and the school's contract from Bright Star said we would be there the week following. Management did NOT deal with this issue whatsoever - I had to negotiate with the principal to eventually allow the show to happen on the incorrect day. I was not thanked or apologized to by Bright Star.

    Another scheduling issue occurred in Washington DC where we showed up at a location for a show that had been CANCELLED FOR MONTHS. Bright Star gave us NO notice of this.


    We performed at a facility for people with special needs without being informed ahead of time. We attempted, all on our own, to adjust the shows to make them sensory friendly. When this was brought up to one of the Bright Star employers, they responded by saying "I didn't know it was a facility for people with special needs," followed by, "You are not to edit the shows for ANY audience. The audience knows what they're getting." Why in THE WORLD would they allow booking to occur at a place they cannot respectfully meet the needs for?!

    Our van started to show wear and tear toward the middle of our tour, and while staying for a few off days in South Carolina, we decided to bring the car to Arden, NC to have Bright Star get it checked out. We left the van with them for FOUR days to get it looked at. When we returned to pick it up again (after driving our own vehicles for those four days), the van was NOT inspected and had NOTHING about it fixed. We were still driving on the road with no windshield wiper fluid and with windshields that would eventually break off in the middle of a rainy night while finishing an 8 hour drive. As you can likely guess, the company did NOTHING about this.

    We did not receive "Schedule B" (company policies - aka, our handbook) until TWELVE days before our tour ended. I had to forcefully ask Bright Star for it as I was fairly certain SOMETHING in the contract had to have been disobeyed. Alas, the handbook was COMPLETELY vague - not covering the employees, but instead covering the employer from any harm that could POSSIBLY be brought against them. They have to know they're running a shameful business, for the amount of a**-covering within their contract.

    My disappointment with this experience was astounding. I had such high hopes that Bright Star would be a truly delightful experience, perhaps one that I could keep coming back to. But unfortunately, that hope did not come to fruition. The time that I spent working with Bright Star was emotionally draining, highly stressful, and profusely upsetting. I wish to never encounter a contract like this again.

    I am leaving out SO many interesting and supremely tragic events that occurred while on tour. But I think everything listed above gets the point across. Bright Star Touring Theatre should be SHUT DOWN. No matter how starving you are for performance work, DO NOT allow yourself to be abused by people only interested in capital. Thats not what us artists are here on this earth to do. Respect yourself enough to say no to garbage places like this one.

    did they respond to your document of complaints?

    04/09/2018  11:30pm

    TL:DR

    It can be rewarding but I also experienced so many of the same issues in my time earlier this year. The work load is very intense and the pay is not enough for what you have to do. Only do it if you REALLY love TYA shows that scripts are on the level of anti bullying PSAs for pre K-8th grade.

    LONG STORY lol,

    I also toured with Bright Star in 2017, and while thankfully it was not fully as crazy as this post there are a LOT of points in this post that happened to our tour as well. It was rewarding to share these shows with kids who have no access to the arts for sure, but they seriously use every single drop of you as an actor and the pay just isn't at the level it should be for what you will be doing.

    Extreme delay in hotel and travel booking. luckily it was fine in the end and none of the hotels were an issue themselves, but there were days where we would actually have to wait to leave to our next destination because the hotels had yet to be booked.

    Had three weeks to memorize the scripts, which was fine except one show required memorization of multiple songs from across the globe and we had no idea if the pronunciations were correct till we had one day to leave lol.

    The same Issues with pay being delayed and had a Bank error issue.

    Contracts were not fully accurate and we were also not told about the workshop

    There was only two venues that was basically not suitable for the shows.

    It can be rewarding for sure at times, but the workload is A LOT. You will be doing multiple shows in a day with upwards of 7-10 hour drives in the same day.

    The team was kind to us but we also didn't send in a complaint at the time cause we were both greener than now and just did what we had to do to get through it. So just really be sure you are in for the long haul.

    04/25/2018  5:23pm
  • Proceed with Caution    
    04/02/2018  12:37pm

    This Theatre Company is unorganized and no one in the office takes responsibility. No matter how small, they'll wind up blaming you. This is a theatre company that produces black history and non-bullying productions. Proceed with CAUTION if you are a African American actor.

    They treat their actors like property. Like a Machine, no more no less.

    You will preform 14-16 shows a week for $400

    You'll come across a lot of racism and the staff shows no empathy.



    THE ONLY POSTIVE THING:
    You can travel for free...but at what cost