May 17th, 2010
Ms. Megan here, with a quick post about actor’s pay. I went to see Trap Door’s Chaste this past Saturday night, and they did something interesting that I hadn’t seen very much before. They had an actor ‘tip jar’ and after the performance, if you liked the show or the actors, you could throw in a few bucks. The money is divided equally among all the actors and production team at the end of the run. I went ‘HMMMMM interesting idea.’ We tip waiters, hairdressers, and the nice lady who gives me pedicures. We even tip the guy who brings your bags to your hotel room (or at least you should. You haven’t done that, have you? Unbelievable. Bell hops everywhere must have you on a black list). Heck, I tip people who I don’t even think deserve a tip, like horrible cab drivers. Why not tip actors? They provide a service through experience, much like your neighbhorhood massage therapist. If you like the service and it has value to you, why not throw in a few extra bucks?
Additionally, I went to see Polarity Theatre’s The Good Harvest, and at the door the box office asked who you were coming to see. Turns out if you came to see an actor in the show, then part of your ticket goes to pay the actor. Also an interesting thought. Get more of your friends and family to come pay to see you, and the bigger paycheck you get. Make the actors advertise your show hardcore, and they get rewarded. And how worthwhile is it to know that part of your ticket goes directly to your buddy’s paycheck?
All these creative ways to solve the HUGE problem of how small storefronts don’t have enough dough to pay actors a living wage. Heck, most of these companies probably can’t even pay their administrative staff or artistic leaders enough for a living wage. Storefronts are made up of an epic number of kind hearted, energetic VOLUNTEERS. All this tipping and creative methods to pay actors made me think about Radiohead’s small scale free market experiment with selling In Rainbows at a pay-what-you-feel rate awhile back. It was hugely successful – people downloaded the album online for an average of $8 a pop. Sure, it’s less than a CD at the store, but when you download it there’s no production costs to deal with. People CHOSE a value for the music that was important to them.It’s kind of nice to have a choice, right?
Can you do this with theatre? Could you say to an audience – hey, come in the door, pay what you think it’s worth based on our advertising, persona, website, etc. If you end up loving the show afterwards, you can throw more money at us and we will glady take it. Would this type of system work? Further, could a tiny storefront even try to find out, with how costly producing a show can be?
I like this tipping actors thing. It makes my brain think. How’s about you?
Ok. Enough procrastinating on a Monday morning. Back to the day job.
Much love and cuddles,