‘Code of Conduct’ Created by Chicago’s Non-Union Theaters

‘Code of Conduct’ Created by Chicago’s Non-Union Theaters

Chicago theater artists gather at Theater Wit for the presentation of the draft Non-Equity Theater Code of Conduct. Photo by Sandy Morris.

Several Chicago theater companies have banded together to create a “Non-Equity Theater Code of Conduct”, the draft document of which was released after an event Monday night at Theater Wit organized by Lori Myers, Laura T. Fisher, and the #NotInOurHouse community that was put together to address sexual harassment in Chicago theater, but has now grown to encompass a wider range of issues facing theater artists.

The agreement, which is self-imposed and non-binding, will be piloted by around a dozen theater companies over the coming year and then revised from the feedback over that period. At 22-pages, the thorough document lays out specific processes for theaters and artists to follow to address and prevent issues of harassment and discrimination, including a provision for a “Non-Equity Deputy” (taking a page from Actor’s Equity agreements which protect union actors), who will be elected on each show as a liaison between the producing company and the cast and crew.

The Code goes far beyond just the most serious issues, providing for the safety and respectful treatment of artists. Theaters adopting the code will not endlessly audition performers, will provide basic safe and sanitary conditions, and pay special attention to the process of rehearsing scenes with physical combat, nudity, and sexual content.

Wisely, most of the provisions of the agreement come at no cost to producers. In fact, most of the Code boils down to theater companies disclosing in advance the policies, procedures, and specific challenges of the given show.

The full draft of the code can be viewed at www.notinourhouse.org.

About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.