Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Woolly Mammoth interns to premiere ‘American Utopias’ to benefit themselves - The Washington Post:

“American Utopias,” Mike ­Daisey’s new monologue set to open in March at Woolly Mammoth, will be presented by Woolly interns as a one-night-only premiere performance on Sunday. Proceeds from the show will benefit the interns, the adorably named Tiny Mammoths, per ­Daisey’s request.

“I’m always interested in how interns are paid, and it’s always terrible,” said Daisey, whose interest in American theater labor standards goes back to his monologue “How Theater Failed America,” which he performed at Woolly in 2009. “The stipend is incredibly small, and there’s no way the stipend can cover any housing. I don’t think you can feed yourself.”

The 10 Tiny Mammoths, all college graduates, are such a vital part of the Woolly apparatus, said artist relations manager and intern mentor Kevin Faragher, that “we could not function without them. They are essential to the day-to-day operations.” They make a weekly stipend of $50.

Jordan Beck, the connectivity assistant intern (some interns assist specific Woolly staffers; others work in marketing, development, lighting and so on) said that many interns, Beck included, hold jobs in addition to their 40-hour workweek at Woolly. The theater offers opportunities to earn extra money by working at performances.

Daisey said he understands theaters’ reluctance to fundraise on behalf of their staff. “It’s hard to campaign for why you need to be paid more,” he said. “So as an outside person coming in, I suggested we could do a benefit ... and all the money from the performance could be used to raise intern salaries.”