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Some theatres will let you volunteer yourself to help on some shows. But not all venues will and for the ones that will, not all shows.


Can someone please tell me the rights on what I can and can't do and if I can do something under "work experience".
I think you mean Law's. There was a work experience kid in at the theatre I casual a lot for, he was in most days till 6 then went home. He couldn't do any heavy lifting, go up cat ladders, go up to the grid.. all things that could be risky/dangerous.


Your profile says, tech crew - Alexandra theatre. Do you volunteer their? As with out wishing to sound rude, I doubt your employed by them. As to the best of my knowledge, I think thats illegal!


If your looking to get experience working in a theatre other than school, try your local ones. If there are any youth theatre companies around your way that work out of a proper venue, try them. An example of that down my way is (again at the theatre I casual a lot for) The Wycombe Swan, in the summer they do a summer youth project, where people audition/interview for casting and crewing of the show. They also run a youth theatre that does 2 or 3 shows a year. I'd be surprised if their wasn't anything like that down your way.





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If you search the forum, you'll find lots on age related issues, but basically, the law says it is illegal for anybody under the age of 16 to work in quite a few places, but one is theatres. In practice quite a few smaller theatres ignor the law, working on the assumption that it is a bit daft (it is), and nobody is likely to complain( they won't). However, the bigger venues often run by big concerns know the law well. My own theatre nearly got into trouble this year.


A really keen FOH girl - 15 yrs old applied. I'd mentioned to the FOH manager before that we should be careful - she contacted the council. Over the telephone she was told it wasn't a problem as long as she didn't work more than a few hours a week, and didn't do adult shows - pretty much as tokm says. A few weeks later, a panicky phone call from the council to say they'd checked and had got it totally wrong - she couldn't work at all! My venue is seasonal and we'd about done! So even the council didn't really know - common sense says it is ok, the law says not!

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The Law says that children under the age of 16 cannot work in a number of places, abattoirs, commercial kitchens (so no pot washing or burger making), bars, ..... and theatres. The only exception appears to be when a childrens licence is in force, subject to the usual vetting and chaperone process.


Some of the rules are a bit odd, some quite sensible - but they are in the act, and therefore legal tablets of stone.


The wording of the Children and Young Persons Act says:

Prohibited employment


No child of any age may be employed in:


* a cinema, theatre, discotheque, dance hall or night club, except in connection with a performance given entirely by children;

* selling or delivering alcohol, except in sealed containers;

* delivering milk as part of a house to house milk delivery round;

* delivering fuel oils;

* a commercial kitchen;

* collecting or sorting refuse;

* any work which is more than three metres above ground level or in the case of internal work, more than three metres above floor level;

* employment involving harmful exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents;

* collecting money or selling or canvassing door-to-door, except under adult supervision;

* work involving exposure to adult material or in situations which are, for this reason, otherwise unsuitable for children;

* telephone sales;

* any slaughterhouse or in that part of any butcher's shop or other premises connected with the killing of livestock, butchery or the preparation of carcasses or meat for sale;

* attending or assisting in a fairground or amusement arcade or in any other premises used for the purpose of public amusement by means of automatic machines, games of chance or skill or similar devices;

* the personal care of residents of any residential care home or nursing home (unless supervised by a responsible adult);

* any activity concerned with the use of firearms;

* outdoor or indoor markets (unless the child is employed by his or her parent, in connection with the parent's retail business and under the parent's direct supervision.

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Accepting that Paul has stated the law as it stands; I wonder why the theatre is precluded? I suspect it is not a H&S issue (selling ice-cream is hardly the riskiest occupation), but a hang-over from a previous age when theatres were the haunt of "ladies of the night" and other unsavoury characters. Anyone any the wiser on why?
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I reckon the view still is that they often have questionable content, are late night operations, are still sadly linked with drink and drugs, and are not places impressionable young people should be subjected to without satisfying the conditions of a performance licence.


If you link this to the H&S risks, especially with the prevalent attitude that many younger people have relating to their skills and experience, then perhaps there is still something there that needs legislation protection.

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I dont work at the theatre any more because they were "breaking the law" as I was under age, I was called into the room and was told that I couldn't work there any more because I was under 16 but the only thing that has got me is that they said that "what goes for me goes for everyone else" and since I have left they have had 15 year olds in (with no licence) to do lx, rigging, sound opt, follow spot, on the gant tree etc.

So what do you think I should do as they are clearly breaking the law but I don't want them to get away with it since the told me the problem of having me there.




Please help

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It may be that they are just letting you down gently, people often do that to make it a bit nicer for everyone concerned.


I'd recommend you DON'T attempt to shop them - as that will kill stone dead any chances you may have of getting work near where you live. Word gets around.


Maybe they needed somebody with a bit more experience, or just wanted to ty somebody new. Of course, if they had to give the authorities the name and address of everyone they had employed under 16, you'd be on it too.


I also think if you check, you may find that a 'gant tree' is actually 'gantry'.



p.s. in your first post you asked what your rights were, in your last one you state that you knew the law said you couldn't work - might have been better to have posted your last post first, rather than get everyones opinion on something you'd already been fired for!

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IMHO reporting someone for breaking the rules would not benefit anyone. Many people (me included) got there break in the industry fairly young via a bit of rule bending.


Do you want to work in a theatre because you have a passion for it or are you just trying to earn a bit of extra cash? If its the latter I'd find another job, if it isn't be persistent, ask if you can do a bit of unpaid work experience or say you simply want to observe the workings of a professional theatre but don't mind making the odd cup of tea or sweeping the stage. You do have to make sure you don't get used however you also have to show willing. The person who first gave me a job in the industry turned down almost every work experience request he received, mine got accepted because I was persistent and made them well aware that I was happy to do real work in order to pay my way. It wasn't long before I ended up with a lot of work for the company and a large amount of experience in a number of venues and many different disciplines.

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I was in a similar situation as you are 2 years ago - young and eager to get into the industry. I assume you are still studying if you are 15, do you have technical resources and shows going on at your school? Because to be honest its like best place to learn at this age, and as you said you are looking to do work experience, as its been explained above from 'paulears' an yourself the laws of underage workers, you obviously cant really get "work". I work at the Watford Palace theatre, and I understand they run a club from 14-18year old for technical training and experience, which obviously you pay for maybe look around to see if any theatres near you run clubs.

But I have been best of staying at school and doing shows there etc now I'm older Ive started to get to know over people... and get work.


Hope you get something!



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do you have technical resources and shows going on at your school? Because to be honest its like best place to learn at this age,


There's no doubt you can get experience doing school shows, but it's only the best place to learn if there are people there who know what they're doing and can teach. This certainly isn't the case in all schools, even those with specialist performing arts status in my experience. I work with youngsters quite a lot (we do let them volunteer for technical stuff as part of a youth theatre group at my venue) but they are always supervised and only allowed limited scope. Some of what some of them tell me is jaw-droppingly stupid, and they seem to think it is normal practice as no-one tells them any better. Examples include putting gel into a gobo slot, walking about on top of a scaff lighting grid with no fall-arrest and connecting a Tecpro intercom XLR into a desk mic input.


In general I do welcome the input of youngsters who are keen, but good supervision and sound practices are key. I guess apart from the legal requirements many venues just don't have the supervisory resource.


I work at the Watford Palace theatre,


I look after the Pump House Theatre - just down the road!



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Just thinking - would unpaid amdram count as theatre for the purposes of this law? Might be a really good opportunity there, as you would probably be given more responsibility and also the hours will fit in better with when you're at school.



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Did anybody see that 12 year old on "Breakfast" on Wednesday that was working behind the bar at his Father's public house pulling pints. Is it me but I believe this contravenes the prohibited places to work in for Under 16's. Is there a special licence that can be claimed so that you can work in places that you shouldn't be working in.
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