Dallas Theater Center Adjusts Understudies Policy Following Cancellation & Twitter Drama
It was just two hours to curtain of Dallas Theater Center's production of IN THE HEIGHTS when production finds out an actor is injured and the production will be unable to perform that evening as they need to see a doctor. (The actor who was injured has not been named by the company.)
In a statement the company noted "Tonight's In the Heights show has been cancelled due to an accident and injury of a lead actress. We are so sorry for the inconvenience and our box office staff will contact you about refunds in the next 48 hours. Thank you for understanding."
The production resumed regular performances, with the injured actress back on stage the next matinee. However, one twitter user asked "But I have to ask, aren't there understudies hired for just this circumstance?"
Dallas Theater Center responded that "As a nonprofit theater, we simply wouldn't be able to afford to pay understudies for an entire run of the show. We build everything from scratch, so we prefer to spend the money we receive on donations on building our sets & fabrics for our costumes."
Actors' Equity President Kate Shindle took to social media to respond to the query about understudies noting "Sure, I understand that audiences like outfits and stuff... but really? You have $10MM/year. Please don't put a sick or injured actor in the position of choosing between their own health/well-being and the cancellation of a show."
Sure, I understand that audiences like outfits and stuff...but really? You have $10MM/year. Please don't put a sick or injured actor in the position of choosing between their own health/well-being and the cancellation of a show. pic.twitter.com/QJ7k0ZXSak- Kate Shindle (@AEAPresident) October 20, 2019
"Typically, because the runs of our show are a month, in the past we haven't had full understudies for all of our performances. Ironically, we have been in the midst of re-thinking that and are rolling out a plan over the next two years to provide understudies. We had already contracted for understudies for our upcoming production of A Christmas Carol. We are starting with A Christmas Carol because the run of the show is the longest of any show that we do. We do nine or 10 performances in a week in the peak holiday season. Moving forward, we will be sure we have appropriate coverage for all of our shows..." said Moriarty.
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