If you’re reading this post, I’m going to assume that you know at least a little bit about how the Canadian theatre system works, who Equity is, etc. If you’re looking for more information on that, I’m probably not the most qualified to answer the questions, but I’m happy to point you the right direction.
The Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) is the equity agreement that governs any production by a member company of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT). In BC this is everyone from Pi Theatre to the Vancouver Playhouse to Touchstone to Carousel. Within the CTA there are regulations for everything from how many hours a day you can rehearse to under what circumstances someone can be fired to how to deal with on-stage nudity.
As a stage manager, your job is to not apply the CTA when you don’t know what the answer is. The association has the responsibility to answer questions and get back to you with an answer. It is equity’s job to intercede if people are unhappy with the solution that’s been reached
Ultimately the theatre is responsible for the behaviour of their organization and you are their EMPLOYEE. It is the management that holds the financial and moral obligation to everyone within their employ.
A little bit of general information about the CTA:
- It’s a scale agreement rather than a collective agreement
- This means that it negotiates the bottom of how a theatre will work. It says “You cannot be paid any less than $XXX.XX.” “You cannot work any more than XX hours/day.” It does not stop you from negotiating a higher rate of pay, less hours/day, better benefits, etc.
- Equity regulates the working conditions for Stage Managers, Directors, Fight Directors, Choreographers & Performers in Theatre, Opera & Dance.
- There are 21 different agreements & policies of which the CTA is the bread and butter of the theatre agreements and is a fully professional agreement.
The CTA, like other Equity agreements is broken down so that it is easier to search. First it is divided into Articles which are large subjects/overarching areas. These are marked with a single number (1, 2, 3, 4, etc). Article 63 is Stage Management. Within those Articles it is divided into clauses which are marked by the number, a colon and then another number (63:01, 63:02, etc). And then within the clauses it breaks down into sub-clauses & sub-sub-clauses.
When you run into an issue and are turning to the CTA for guidance it is important to go through in process. Something given as a solution in a clause is the first thing to look at before moving on to anything listed in a sub or sub-sub clause.
At the conference we then spent a chunk of our time talking about the different stage management clauses. Specifically we looked at overtime and how that is to be administered, the required rehearsal conditions, contracts and how to calculate the length of day.
Personally, I don’t often work in CTA houses (with the exception, thus far, of my work with pi theatre), but I find it very valuable to have a better understanding of the regulations that are in place in those situations. Many of the clauses were created to protect the artists (which include the stage manager!) and therefore it is well worth my time to implement as many of those as I can in other settings, regardless of the company’s relationship with equity. No, I’m not about to go around saying that I must be payed overtime & meal infringements when I’m working on a co-op, but keeping track of the length of day that I work and ensuring that I take some time to take care of myself is an important thing.
UPDATE: To view the CTA online in its full form, head over to http://caea.com/EquityWeb/EquityLibrary/Agreements/Theatre/TheatreLibrary.aspx