The theater is not made by the actors. The actors and actresses represent it. Those who do it, with all the prosaic, material, functional, complex, technological and resounding that the verb to do contains are the technicians, whose work is invisible during the performance. The more invisible they are in the eyes of the public, the greater their art: it means that there has been no mistake, that the work has been staged as it had been conceived. From so much cultivating the art of invisibility, it seems that other dimensions of the performing profession, such as education and work, have come to believe it. “Theater is a profession that has never been regulated, there are no degrees of its own and that is why we are now facing this,” says Rocío Gil Díaz, machinist in the scenic spaces dependent on the INAEM. That “this” to which Rocío refers is the sudden call for public places this August, to which the majority of workers in job exchanges cannot opt because FP qualifications are required that are not the ones that are usually They are studying to train. It has happened to the councilors, but they are not the only trade affected.
The Government is betting everything on VET: the umpteenth attempt to promote a path to change the labor market
“I would love to meet the person who has decided that to be a machinist you have to be a fallero teacher,” wonders the AP theater hairdresser, in solidarity with Rocío. The problem comes from the implementation of the IV Single Agreement (signed in 2019) to adjust to the European requirements of the Bologna Plan. In the negotiations, the unions and the INAEM called for moratoriums that have not always been respected. The conflict is even greater when it comes to professions for which there is no specific Higher Degree FP and the Ministry of Public Function has chosen to choose one by approximation, as is the case of falleros for machinists.
The machinists, traditionally called stagehands, position and move the elements of the scenery of a show. In major productions, these elements can be highly complex, require mechanical mobility and, most importantly, be synchronized with the rhythm of the performance. The Ministry of Culture has removed nine positions for machinists and, in the union negotiation, it has been achieved that the FP of Fallas artist is not yet essential for this call – but it is for the following ones -, which can only be studied in Valencia and face-to-face way. In this transition period, it has been decided to admit any degree of FP. But Rocío has a university degree in Audiovisual Communication and has been trained in the reference school, owned by INAEM itself, the Show Technology Center where, in addition, she is a teacher. He has six years of experience doing the same job as a temporary job for which the fixed position is now being offered. “Someone who has, for example, a higher oral hygiene FP may come to our places, but not me,” he warns.
For Rocío to move forward with her professional career and abandon the concatenation of precarious and intermittent contracts, typical of temporary theater personnel, she would have to leave everything behind and go two years to study how to make fallas in Valencia. “I am studying that route, if I get a place it can compensate me,” he says. “When this happened I considered changing my profession but I want to continue being a machinist, I like doing theater since I was a child, I have always wanted to dedicate myself to this”, explains Rocío. It is rare to find a theater technician who does not love their work, which is why they go so far as to make many sacrifices. But, the older you are, the more it becomes uphill, when not feasible.
Someone who has, for example, a higher vocational training in oral hygiene may come to our places, but I, who have a degree in Audiovisual Communication, will not be able to do so.
This is the case of AP, 46 years old and with 25 years of experience. “When you are one age you should be enjoying what you have instead of studying for two years,” he says. Since 2012, no hairdressing places were called in the theaters, so she had been waiting for this moment for a long time, after chaining contracts of 15 days, a month, two at the most. “When the opposition appears, we realize that we cannot present ourselves,” says the professional, who emphasizes that her words represent a collective feeling where, that she knows, at least 30 of the 50 people from the job bank in the who are registered cannot apply for a place. This professional studied makeup and characterization, as well as hairdressing in a private school and is in constant training. To have a FP degree, he studied the higher degree of Comprehensive Aesthetics, but the homologation has been made with the title of higher technician in Styling and Hairdressing Management, studies that were established in Madrid only three years ago, so only There is a promotion that can be presented to the squares, and that, as is evident, would only have one year of experience and would never have worked for the INAEM, since the last exchange was established previously. These requirements involve emptying the theaters of professionals with tables.
“In our work it is more important to have experience and know where you work than to have the best grades,” explains the hairdresser. “We work as a team, you need quick changes on the stage, and that can only be learned by doing it. With a 100-hour course in audiovisual hairdressing, I find it difficult to learn everything we do every day in a theater: preparing posticeries, putting wigs, prepare the production… “, he adds.
Strikes and mobilizations for the new season
There are more professions fully affected. For the lighting technicians of live shows, the Higher Technician in Lighting, Capture and Image Treatment qualification has been chosen, a FP where only 330 hours of this trade are given (out of a total of 2,000 that entails the two years of studies) , which are also shared with audiovisual companies. A study of various associations and platforms of show technicians, presented to the INAEM, indicated that the chosen VET has a lower teaching load than would be necessary. On the other hand, obtaining the Certificate of Professionalism in Lighting Technology, which would be one of the ways that are claimed as an alternative to this FP, would be 640 hours.
The lighting technician Libertad Calvo Costa, graduated in Audiovisual Communication and with a degree from the CTE, cannot attend the square either, although she has been working for the INAEM since 2008. As she is trained to teach, she plans to leave the theater and become a teacher. “We are the temporary ones who have been supporting the theater to get ahead, with contracts of 15 days and only six months a year. When after all these years of precarious contracts, bordering on illegality, they finally get a good number of seats It turns out that most people can’t show up, “she explains, disappointed.
We are the temporary ones who have been supporting the theater and after years of precarious contracts, bordering on illegality, it turns out that we cannot perform
All the problems that have arisen as a result of the framing of the technical professions of the theater shows, for the associations of technicians, the need to implement a Higher VET Degree in Performing Arts, which recognizes the need for specific and differentiated teaching of audiovisuals or, to return to the extreme example, the fallas artists.
“Nowadays the audiovisual eats it all, and the live show is just a small tip at an economic level, but at a symbolic level the performing arts are very important, they are part of the cultural heritage even though they move less money,” says Libertad.
The idea of the majority of the theater technicians contacted is to present themselves to the opposition even knowing that they do not comply with the rules, so that, with the score in hand, it is the system that expels them. The machinist Rocío Gil is working with a lawyer in the contentious-administrative challenge, and she is not the only one. Strikes are also being prepared at the start of the season, to make the situation visible and others, such as Libertad, hope that “with media pressure, the Ministry of Public Function will end up backing down.”