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Come From Away producer insists performers must be vaccinated to return to stage

Come From Away producer insists performers must be vaccinated to return to stage
September 11, 2021

The producer of the award-winning musical Come From Away has said performers will have to be vaccinated before they return to the stage when NSW begins reopening next month.

With the production becoming the first Australian theatre company to mandate vaccinations, which also extends to the crew, Producer Rodney Rigby stated “we want to lead by example.

“We want to be a safe house and get back to work as fast as we possibly can.”

The move comes after productions on New York’s Broadway and in London’s West End introduced similar ‘no jab, no play’ rules for performers earlier this year.

Come From Away, which drew down the curtain at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre on 27th June , has been dogged by COVID shutdowns for its entire Australian run. It was closed down in Melbourne and Brisbane before being hit once again in Sydney.

Rigby told the Sydney Morning Herald “our employees have spent more time this year stood down without pay than working and we want to do everything we possibly can to create the safest possible working environment for everybody on Come From Away.

“It’s been devastating to us. We have only played to 7% of our potential audience in Sydney.”

Rigby said the production was on target to have almost all 60 performers and crew vaccinated by 4th October.

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance Chief Executive, Paul Murphy said the union was in favour of vaccination for all workers “where it is reasonable and safe to do so”.

However, he urged employers not to rush the process, advising “they must engage with employees and contractors and explain their situation respectfully as consultation is critical to ensure everyone is informed and moving in the right direction.

“Every workplace will be different and it is not possible to make a blanket policy when there are so many variables.”

A spokesperson for NSW Health quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald said it was too soon to give definitive guidance on vaccine requirements for theatre performers but that there would be clarity on the issue once health orders were finalised.

Michael Cassel, the Australian Producer of Hamilton, said the NSW Government’s latest outline of its plans to ease out of lockdown “was pretty clear regarding what is required of audience and staff in venues so we’ll be adhering to that”.

He said plans for the resumption of performances would be announced soon.

Outgoing Opera Australia Chief Executive, Rory Jeffes said vaccination would be a “critical factor” for the company getting back to work, adding that OA was still consulting with employees about a potential vaccine mandate.

Image: The cast of Come From Away has been stood down without pay since June due to NSW’s Coronavirus lockdown.

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