Photography by Sarah Hiatt
October 18th, 2016
One of the themes that comes up again and again in our interviews is the need to better incorporate childcare into the theatre. As the discussion around accessible and affordable childcare has become a constant in the American workforce, the theatre industry has both lagged behind in this dialogue and poses its own unique challenges. Theatre schedules remain largely opposite to the average child’s schedule, with parents leaving for work shortly after the school day ends and frequently working on weekends and holidays. Writers and directors, in order to stay competitive and make a living wage, work on multiple projects at once, again causing long, non-traditional hours (for a director, the average work day can be 12 hours), and frequently in environments that have no structure for childcare. At the moment, none of the unions provide any support nor have any policies for childcare or maternity leave, leaving it up to individual institutions and producers. While some have taken matters into their own hands (The Broadway Babysitters are an often cited example), it’s clear that a widespread conversation about childcare is long overdue.
Although it is now more common for both parents in two-parent households to share childcare responsibilities, mothers remain the primary caregivers and are the ones more frequently asked to make career decisions around childcare. Recent studies have found that men with children working in the top of their professions more often than not have partners who stay at home or work flexible hours, whereas women in similar positions almost always have partners who are also working full time. Men are seldom asked about how they balance work and childcare and are almost never asked who is caring for their child while they are at work. Meanwhile, for women, a stigma still persists around talking openly and honestly about the demands of motherhood for fear that it might be interpreted as them being less capable or committed to their jobs.
Over the last six months, photographer Sarah Hiatt met with working mothers of the theatre to document how their children were incorporated into their lives as artists. From children in rehearsal, to balancing working at home with childcare, to doing things often missed out on while working, these women represent just a small handful of those working in the theatre while raising children. And while they wait for the theatre industry to catch up to the demands of modern working parents, their kids remain in the picture.