Actors lose case over Tivoli Theatre dismissal

‘Dracula’ cast unsuccessful in their employment appeal

A cast of actors has lost a case against Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre at the Employment Appeals Tribunal after being let go in the middle of a run amid ’dismal’ box office takings. Image: Google Maps

A cast of actors has lost a case against Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre at the Employment Appeals Tribunal after being let go in the middle of a run amid ’dismal’ box office takings. Image: Google Maps

Fri, May 10, 2013, 01:00

A cast of actors has lost a case against Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre at the Employment Appeals Tribunal after being let go in the middle of a run amid ’dismal’ box office takings. The appeal related to wages owed.

The dispute arose on October 2nd 2010 after the actors signed an agreement to take a 25 per cent cut in wages to fund advertising in an attempt to boost ticket sales for the stage adaptation of Dracula.

The production was due to run from September 23rd until November 6th. However the cast had also been issued with protective notice on September 30th that the show might close in a week because of poor ticket sales, the Tribunal said in its determination issued in recent weeks and seen by The Irish Times.

The eight actors and a stage director, including former Fair City star David Heap and Tyrone actor Liam McMahon, who took the case rejected the agreement days later after contact with a union representative from Irish Equity.He had advised that the agreement was ’unfair, repugnant and totally unacceptable’, the Tribunal said.

After the union and actors failed to reach agreement with theatre owner Anthony Byrne on the matter, the cast was given notice of termination on October 9th, the Tribunal’s letter said.

The agreement had allowed that if 50 per cent of seats were sold the actors’ pay would be restored with bonuses for attendance above this level and the show would run until November 6th.

The actors had appealed a failed Rights Commissioner recommendation to the Tribunal and were seeking payments of between €2000 and €3200 each for a breach of the Payment of Wages Act. They argued that a “run of show” clause in their contract meant they were entitled to be paid until November 6th. However Mr Byrne argued that “run of show” was a get out clause in the event of an unsuccessful show.

During the hearing in March last, Mr Byrne said that because new productions were “incredibly vulnerable” it would be “stark raving mad” not to sign the actors up on a run of show basis. However Mr Heap had said run of show had always been a “grey area” and he assumed it meant to an option for extension.

The Tribunal found that the actors had “all entered into an agreement” and it was satisfied the theatre did not breach the Payment of Wages Act and the case failed.