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SPLF Employment Blog

18: Moms in the Theatre

In today’s episode of Parents at Work, Tom Spiggle and co-host, Lori Mihalich-Levin, introduce us to two moms in the performing arts, Rachel Spencer Hewitt and Roberta Pereira. Rachel details her personal challenges as a working mom and the logistics of trying to find acting work while juggling new motherhood. Roberta addresses common practices in the theatre industry that previously haven’t been questioned. Join us as they share insight, tips, and resources for theatre moms, on today’s Parents at Work Podcast.


Rachel Spencer Hewit
Founder, Parent-Artist Advocacy
League
Rachel Spencer Hewitt received her MFA in acting from the Yale School of
Drama. Her credits include Broadway, off-Broadway and regional theatre. She
is mom of 2 children, a 4 year old and a 2 year old, the Founder and
Executive Director of The National Organization for Individual Caregivers
in Institutional Support, and the Founder of the Parent-Artist Advocacy
League (PAAL) for the performing arts.
 


Roberta Pereira
Producing Director, The Playwrights Realm

Roberta Pereira is a Tony-nominated, Olivier-award winning theatre producer.
She is currently the producing director of “The Playwrights
Realm”, an off-Broadway theatre company committed to amplifying the voices
of emerging playwrights. She’s the solo mom of 20-month old Bianca.

 

Show Highlights

– Scheduled craziness and chaos of hours
– The need for invisible labor, contingency plans, creative
problem-solver
– Saying yes to opportunities that may have a 24-hour notice and then
prioritizing that opportunity over everything, no matter how healthy (or
unhealthy) that decision is for everyone
– Reaching out and receiving help from family
– Broadway Babysitters based in NYC, composed primarily of artists who
are used to long hours and understand industry norms
– Urban Sitter, an online database that will show locations for
caregivers while traveling
– Washington D.C. just passed a paid-leave law
– FMLA applies to some people, but doesn’t require paid leave
– Celebrating the individual and saying yes to everything that they are
– Hostile work culture can break an individual, because of their needs
outside of the industry
– Prioritizing the health and independence of the individual Rachel and
Roberta’s goal is to make the industry better for everyone
– When you’re home, be focused on home
– The Radical Parent Inclusion (RPI) project – providing childcare at
auditions
– Sometimes not being able to afford being seen is the reason people
don’t get the job, and not because they are not capable or don’t want to
work.
– Changing rehearsal dates to coincide with a child’s holiday from
school, so that it becomes a day off for both the parent and the child
– The idea of the “disposable artist”: you work until you’re burned out.
Once you burn out, you’re replaceable. If we care about longevity, we need
to care about practices that are sustainable.
– Caring about inclusion through the lens of parenting
– What lessons can we learn that are transferable?
– Hiring parents can be an asset
– Providing a child-care matinee, where children do activities while
parents watch a play
– Being an agent of change within the industry and leading by example
– Find community! Don’t underestimate the value of resource-sharing.

Resources/Links

Book:Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from
Birth to Preschool
by Emily Oster”

Article:“End the Plague of Secret Parenting” by Emily Oster
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/05/normalize-parenthood-workplace-dont-hide-it/589822/

The “Parents at Work” Podcast is sponsored by:

The Spiggle Law Firm, representing people who have been wrongfully fired,
or fear they might be, with a particular focus on pregnancy discrimination.3

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