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Editor’s Note: What’s In Your Toolbox

Michael S. Eddy • Editor's NoteFebruary 2021 • February 3, 2021

Welcome to the February 2021 issue of Stage Directions magazine. As editor I have tried to cover the work of all the talented people who make theater every day. And I do mean ALL the people, as I have tried to center diversity, equity, and inclusion in the magazine, because I think it is a responsibility as the press, as a platform in the theater community, to highlight the important work people are doing to make theater more equitable for everyone. As a part of this coverage, pay equity has been something that I have tried to highlight, as this goes to diversity as well as the idea of recognizing that different discipline theater makers are equally valuable, skilled people who contribute quite a lot to our industry and to the economy of our country. Being paid a proper wage and recognized as a valuable contributor is vital. So I am very happy to again have the opportunity to look at pay equity this month with a thought-provoking piece by Elsa Hiltner.

As valued colleagues, we also have to address that the past year has been rough on a lot of people—especially as many theater makers are freelancers. Not having work—or an income—can be the root cause of stress. A lot of people are under enormous pressures and it can take its toll on their health, both physical and mental health. And returning to work safely will bring a new set of concerns for people. Many are struggling with anxiety, grief, feeling overwhelmed, an inability to concentrate, changes in appetite or sleep, changes in drinking or substance use patterns, or other issues that affect daily functioning. Everyone needs to remember that It’s okay not to be okay.
Mental health resources is another issue that I have tried to center in Stage Directions. Mental health awareness—and destigmatizing it—is more important than ever. In this issue, we once again look at some of the mental health resources that are available to theater workers, from Behind the Scenes, The Actor’s Fund—both for anyone who works in the theater; and also the support from IATSE C.A.R.E.S. for union workers. 

In fact, just as we were going to press, a new set of resources came in from the Behind the Scenes’ Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative—The Toolbox Talks. They suggest language about mental health, and respectful workplaces, become a part of every toolbox talk or safety briefing given. Psychological safety is just as important as physical safety. Every shop has safety posters up on the walls and have briefings to go over shop and tool safety; why not add specifics about mental wellbeing to these talks? For a lot of people, mental health isn’t an easy subject to tackle, so BTS’ Toolbox Talks includes suggested topics and sample language that you can use for your situation or application. They’ve also included some brief pre-scripted talks that can be incorporated into existing safety briefings; as well as key reasons why it’s important to talk about mental health and psychological safety in the workplace.

You can learn more at

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