Freelance theatre workers are the lifeblood of theatre. The task force aims to strengthen their influence as we respond to and recover from the Covid-19 crisis in the performing arts sector.

Last month, Soho Theatre, along with more than a hundred other performing arts organisations, including producing companies and venues, jointly signed an open letter to theatre and performance makers in support of the freelancers who make up a large and vital part of the ecology of the performance sector.

The letter had three main aims:

  • To listen and respond to the needs of freelancers in the performing arts
  • To call for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing and until theatres can safely reopen
  • To establish a Freelance Task Force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. Each organisation signing up to the letter has committed to recruiting and paying a freelancer for one day a week throughout June, July and August to join the Freelance Task Force (13 days work).

We want to tell you about our approach to recruitment, along with more details about what the role will entail.

RECRUITING FOR THE FREELANCE TASK FORCE

Every organisation has worked in different ways to identify and engage the freelancer they are sponsoring to be part of the Task Force. The Task Force aims to ensure good representation across the following areas:

  • Geography
  • Discipline/role – performance, makers, technicians, stage management, support roles
  • Diversity – protected characteristics and also class and immigration status
  • Age/experience range

Due to extreme staff shortage affected by the response to Covid-19 and the timeframe required to establish the Freelance Task Force, we decided our focus should be on selecting individuals who were less represented by other member groups. Specifically we wanted to support representation from the comedy industry, D/deaf & disabled artists, LGBTQ+ artists, the Jewish community and the Waltham Forest community.

Soho Theatre is under enormous financial pressures as a result of the pandemic but we recognise the absolute importance of freelancer representation in the recovery. We are grateful to have received financial support to sponsor three individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities and will be vital contributors to the Freelance Task Force.

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BIOGRAPHIES

ALESSANDRO BABALOLA – WRITER AND ACTOR

Alessandro Babalola is an actor and writer, born and raised in Leyton, East London. He studied acting at the Arts University of Bournemouth. After graduating he performed in various short films, Off West End plays and Fringe theatre productions before landing Flesh & Bone (National Theatre, Soho Theatre, Edinburgh Festival – Fringe First winner) with Unpolished Theatre company for which they (along with the Soho Theatre) won an Olivier Award in 2019. His performance in Flesh & Bone led to him being cast in season 3 of Top Boy on Netflix as well as the Netflix original called Cursed. He most recently completed filming on Guy Ritchie’s upcoming film Cash Truck and ITV’s Unforgotten.

Alessandro has also written two plays: Invincibilly which premiered at the Wandsworth Fringe festival in 2019 and The Perfect Companion which first showed at the Pleasance Theatre in November 2019 and will run again at the Lighthouse Theatre in Poole 2021.

ROSIE JONES – COMEDIAN

With her infectious laugh and high energy, Rosie Jones has quickly become a must-see act on the UK comedy circuit. The ex-television researcher was awarded second place in the Leicester Mercury’s New Comedian Of The Year Award 2018 and has gone on to star on Live At The Apollo, The Jonathan Ross Show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Cats Does Countdown, The Last Leg, Rosie Jones Tries To Help, Live From The Comedy Store, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, Comedy Central UK’s Roast Battle, Mock The Week and HypotheticalRosie has completed two sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with both shows Fifteen Minutes and Backward receiving critical acclaim – with the Scotsman describing her show as “both elegantly crafted and mischievous to its bones”. Both shows played at Soho Theatre.

Not forgetting her comedy writing roots Rosie is also busy working on a couple of sitcoms and wrote on the hit Netflix series Sex Education.  There seems to be no end to Rosie’s talents as she is also an incredible actor, making her primetime debut as Serena in a Silent Witness two-part-special and most recently starring as Penelope Lawrence in BBC’s Shakespeare & Hathaway.

RACHEL MARS – THEATRE WRITER AND PERFORMER

Rachel Mars is a theatre writer and performer. She has been working at the cross-over of performance art and theatre for 13 years, performing all over the UK and Internationally including recently at South Bank Centre, Barbican London, Brisbane International Festival, Brighton International Festival, Fusebox Festival Austin. Recent Work includes Our Carnal Hearts, a choral dissection of envy, Your Sexts Are Shit: Older Better Letters, a queer archive of sex letters (which had been scheduled to play at Soho Theatre in June 2020) and Story #1/#3, a collaboration with Greg Wohead on radical narrative.

She won a Total Theatre Award and the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award in 2017, and a Michael Grandage Company Futures Bursary in 2018. She is currently under commission at Leeds Playhouse and Home Manchester/The Entertainment Group for Ellen: The Musical with Louise Mothersole. She identifies as Queer and Jewish, both of which contexts inform her work.

rachelmars.org

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RELATIONSHIP TO SOHO THEATRE

  • Freelance Task Force members aren’t expected to represent Soho Theatre or speak on our behalf, nor are they expected to undertake any other duties on behalf of Soho Theatre.
  • Freelance Task Force members will operate at arm’s length, accountable to the self-employed community that they are part of. We will offer admin support to the Task Force representative if required.
  • We hope that each Freelance Task Force member will use this opportunity to inform and influence their Sponsor Organisation (us included), and to draw on our support and networks should they need to.
  • We expect the Freelance Task Force member to work in line with Soho Theatre policies.

REMUNERATION

Each Freelance Task Force member (or job share partnership) will be paid for a total of 13 days work i.e. one day a week throughout June, July and August. For the Soho Theatre the daily rate of pay will be £150. We don’t expect that there will be any further expenses.

AIMS OF THE FREELANCE TASK FORCE

The aim of the Freelance Task Force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It will create ongoing points of connection between freelancers, organisations, funders and government and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come about how we manage the response to and recovery from the Covid-19 crisis in the performing arts sector.

THE FREELANCE TASK FORCE MEMBER’S ROLE

It’s up to the Freelance Task Force to establish its own structure as to how it fulfils these aims. We imagine that the Freelance Task Force will quickly establish its own agenda, set its own mission and organise itself. In sponsoring a freelancer, we and the other arts organisations hope each member will work together with all other members of the Freelance Task Force to:

  • Coordinate wider conversations with freelancers in their area and/or specialism
  • Hold and participate in regular Freelance Task Force meetings
  • Attend meetings and events on behalf of the Freelance Task Force
  • Lobby on behalf of the wider freelance community
  • Ensure that information is widely distributed

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