Code of Ethics for Theatre

A couple of days ago, an Alumnae Theatre Company member sent me a link to an article written in 2009.

I posted it on Alumnae’s Facebook page, and linked it to our Twitter account, but am adding here too.

The article was posted on the website for LA STAGE TIMES, which promotes performing arts in Los Angeles, California.  (Sadly, after 12 years in operation, the site had to stop publishing new content as of January 2014 – due to lack to funding.   A widespread problem.)

Here are the highlights of the Ethics Code, which are still applicable nearly 70 years after they were written, and should be taken to heart by theatre practitioners everywhere, even though the rules are directed specifically at actors.  Members of the [non-Equity and successful] Circle Theatre in Los Angeles were required to sign this document, which included after the rules:

 “I understand that membership in the Circle Theatre entitles me to the privilege of working, when I am so assigned, in any of the phases of a production, including: props, lights, sound, construction, house management, box office, publicity and stage managing-as well as acting. I realize it is possible I may not be cast in a part for many months, but I will not allow this to dampen my enthusiasm or desire to work, since I realize without my willingness to do all other phases of theatre work, there would be no theatre for me to act in.”

Circle Theatre_blog misc Kathleen Freeman (1919-2001), actor, co-founder of Circle Theatre and writer* of the Code, notes that it is “an attitude toward your vocation, your fellow workers, your audiences and yourself…a kind of self-discipline…”.  The Circle Theatre, founded in 1946, still operates today, under the name El Centro Theatre.

 Theatre Ethics Code:

  1. I shall never miss a performance.

  2. I shall play every performance with energy, enthusiasm and to the best of my ability regardless of size of audience, personal illness, bad weather, accident, or even death in my family.

  3. I shall forego all social activities which interfere with rehearsals or any other scheduled work at the theatre, and I shall always be on time.

  4. I shall never make a curtain late by my failure to be ready on time.

  5. I shall never miss an entrance.

  6. I shall never leave the theatre building or the stage area until I have completed my performance, unless I am specifically excused by the stage manager; curtain calls are a part of the show.

  7. I shall not let the comments of friends, relatives or critics change any phase of my work without proper consultation; I shall not change lines, business, lights, properties, settings or costumes or any phase of the production without consultation with and permission of my director or producer or their agents, and I shall inform all people concerned.

  8. I shall forego the gratification of my ego for the demands of the play.

  9. I shall remember my business is to create illusion; therefore, I shall not break the illusion by appearing in costume and makeup off-stage or outside the theatre.

  10. I shall accept my director’s and producer’s advice and counsel in the spirit in which it is given, for they can see the production as a whole and my work from the front.

  11. I shall never “put on an act” while viewing other artists’ work as a member of an audience, nor shall I make caustic criticism from jealousy or for the sake of being smart.

  12. I shall respect the play and the playwright and, remembering that “a work of art is not a work of art until it is finished,” I shall not condemn a play while it is in rehearsal.

  13. I shall not spread rumor or gossip which is malicious and tends to reflect discredit on my show, the theatre, or any personnel connected with them-either to people inside or outside the group.

  14. Since I respect the theatre in which I work, I shall do my best to keep it looking clean, orderly and attractive regardless of whether I am specifically assigned to such work or not.

  15.   I shall handle stage properties and costumes with care for I know they are part of the tools of my trade and are a vital part of the physical production.

  16.  I shall follow rules of courtesy, deportment and common decency applicable in all walks of life (and especially in a business in close contact with the public) when I am in the theatre, and I shall observe the rules and regulations of any specific theatre where I work.

  17.  I shall never lose my enthusiasm for theatre because of disappointments.

The full article can be read here:

And another blog commentary on the article is here:

*Freeman’s authorship is disputed in the Comments following LA  STAGE TIMES post!


Leave a comment

Filed under 2013/14 Season, News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s