Actor, director and producer Laura nominated for Equity elections

Joseph Bulmer

Brixham Theatre trustee Laura Jury - a co-founder, director, and actor with the South Devon Players theatre company - has been nominated as a possible member of Equity’s designers and directors committee.

Laura has competed with Equity members based in London’s West End and many, long-established city venues, theatres, and production companies.

Eight members are standing but only four will be elected.

Equity is the internationally recognised and respected trade union representing the interests of actors, directors, designers, stage managers, technicians, circus entertainers and variety performers. It also covers those who work in media, film and on the catwalk.

Ballot papers were sent out to the membership, in excess of 43,500, on June 7 and Laura should know if she has been successful some time in July.

Equity’s committees are at the forefront of improving pay and conditions in the entertainment business.

The union is committed to ensuring that it is a powerful industrial force and that every member’s voice is heard.

Laura says performing is in her blood. Her mother was a skater in Holiday on Ice before Laura appeared on the scene and she feels that there was only one path in life she could follow.

Not a great skater, she opted for acting.

As a teenager, she studied drama at South Devon College and then went on to complete a degree in film production at Plymouth University. This was followed by a master’s degree in theatre studies at Exeter.

Her first appearance on stage was at the Palace Theatre, Paignton, as a member of a youth theatre called the Acting Factory.

South Devon Players is a professional company founded in the winter of 2005 with their first performance in the summer of 2006.

However, individuals can audition for roles no matter what their level of experience. Some actors are professionals, some aspiring professionals while others simply enjoy acting as a fun hobby.

SDP exists to provide opportunities for local actors and crew.

While non-professionals are welcome, the expectations and the way the company works is professional. It exists on a tightrope of funding to cover production costs.

The cast and crew share any profits from ticket sales. This has varied wildly over the years from as little as ten pence per person for a show presented at a fete to three-figure sums.

SDP is actively working towards funding to enable payment at full Equity rates.

SDP produces two to three big scale productions a year with six to nine performances of each play. Past productions include Les Misérables and Macbeth.

The company tours to places such as Bristol and Penzance. It has also attracted the interest of  theatres in London, Yorkshire, and Newcastle.

The main difficulty is the cost of transporting cast, crew, equipment, props and so forth to these far-flung venues.

Also, the price of accommodation is an issue. In addition, their productions are globally streamed.

Laura joined Equity, which was one of the last closed shop unions in the UK, three years ago and cites many benefits of belonging.

It is viewed as a major benchmark of professionalism and useful perks include public liability insurance for performers and the worldwide registration of actors’ stage names.

It offers valuable advice and support if something goes wrong in a production and recommends best possible practice throughout the industry.

Laura has a vision, is on a mission to raise the status of regional theatre which is often viewed as the poor relation of the West End or theatres in other large cities.

She would like to see more visiting production companies, especially film makers, employing the skills and talent of local performers and crew.

South Devon Players will be staging Shakespeare’s Henry V at Brixham Theatre on November 26 and 27.