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Safety - Student Handbook

SAFETY The School of Drama has a safety committee composed of Josie Gardner (chair), Alex Danilchik, the Administrator, Cathy Madden, Anne Stewart, and a student representative. Any safety problem can be reported to any one of these people.

Everyone - student, staff and faculty - is ultimately responsible for his/her own safety. Drama can be dangerous to your health! We have first aid kits in various places throughout the School. In Hutchinson, there are kits in the main lounge, design wing lounge and each theater. If one of them is empty, please report it to the main office, so we can replenish it. If you are injured, please remember to report it. Fill out the on-line accident report here:

If you are in need of an ambulance, call 911. From a cell phone tell dispatcher that you are on the UW campus.

Safety at Night: the University has two options for ensuring your safety when commuting at night. NightRide Shuttle & Husky NightWalk 

Other School of Drama safety information.


Dial 911 from a campus phone. Never hesitate to call the UW campus police for any problem or injury! They are your friends.

If you have only a cell phone check out


Common Sense PLUS - (from Cathy Madden, Safety Committee Member).

How can we define the actors' role in safety issues? Using common sense is how we usually define it, but theater does create unusual circumstances which call for something beyond common sense. Oddly enough some guidelines for considering this issue come from the first chapter of the Mountaineering First Aid book published by The Mountaineers. While theater artists are not rock-climbing in alpine conditions, we are in unusual circumstances. Stage sets are not designed like real rooms there can be some pretty odd configurations backstage and onstage. The stages are lit for artistic expression and for the audience to see us, not necessarily for us to see. We act in condensed time, so we might make some pretty quick changes of direction. Plus the people we are playing are often under some kind of duress that demands a larger-than-life size of action. All of which asks us to have common sense PLUS.

The Mountaineers have analyzed contributing causes of Mountaineering accidents and have come up with 4 categories of causes:

  1. Bad judgment using equipment (includes inadequate equipment and lack of protection)
  2. Performance/judgment error (includes exceeding abilities)
  3. Environmental Conditions (includes darkness)
  4. Equipment failure In a common sense plus rehearsal and performance environment, these factors may well be adapted to the stage.

In a common sense plus rehearsal and performance environment, these factors may well be adapted to the stage.

Actors and Technicians - The bottom line in safety for an actor or technician is: Do not risk your body. You need it in this profession and you've got only one. Be responsible for your safety! Make yourself aware of your rights. If you have a problem with something you have been asked to do (if you feel it's not safe), report it to a committee member who will carry your concerns forward.

Bad judgment in using equipment

Hopefully, the design and/or stage management and/or directing team have chosen equipment that is safe. If you as an actor don’t feel safe, it is your job to say so. You are not being brave to act on a platform you feel unsafe on; you are being foolhardy. If you don’t feel safe, you aren’t. It may be that all you need to know is that the platform is well-built, or it may be that you are the only one who knows that the platform is about to give way. If, in your judgment, anything about the set is questionable, ask the question.

Performance/Judgment Error

If you are asked to do something (i.e. a fall, a fight, a cartwheel) that you don’t have the skill to do, it is your responsibility to tell that to the director or choreographer. If you don’t know how to do something, you deserve to get the information that keeps you and your fellow actors safe. (See the definition of acceptable risk below.)

Environmental conditions

The environmental conditions are largely handled by the staff of the show. You have to remember, however, that you are the one who really knows what you need in terms of safety on the set. This is also the category that restricts the use of fire onstage. Fire creates an unpredictable and potentially dangerous environmental condition.

Acceptable Risk

How safe is safe enough? It would be impossible to totally eliminate risk. Further, willingness to take risks and challenge ourselves can be an important growth experience. The decision is to limit oneself to some acceptable risk. The amount of risk that is acceptable for one person is not necessarily the same as that for the next person, as capabilities and desires differ. Recognizing those limits is the basis for prevention. The limits themselves can be altered, as well. Capabilities can be improved, by training, physical conditioning, and experience. Arriving at an acceptable level of risk involves maintaining an adequate margin of safety, and this requires the use of judgment


Due to the number of street persons in the U District neighborhood, it is vital that the security of Hutchinson Hall and other drama facilities be maintained.

  • Be sure to close all windows, especially those on the ground floor when you're finished so no one climbs through from the outside. Our custodian works in the mornings, so there won't be anyone to close up after you.
  • None of the doors should be propped open at night. We've found transients sleeping in closets and in classrooms, and they have gained access through the doors which have been left open. The Costume Shop has had problems with people climbing through their windows.  The Scene Shop, because of its location, has had problems as well.
  • Please be aware - and don't assume that someone else will take the responsibility of closing a door or window.
  • If you find a transient sleeping in a room, do not try to deal with him/her yourself. Call 911 then alert the Main office so that they can direct the police to the proper room or witness.
  • Do not leave bags, backpacks, purses or leather jackets unattended in a room or the library and expect them to be there when you return. Take them with you even on a quick rehearsal break.