Theatre producer Richard Loring laughs when he recalls staging the musical African Footprint at Gold Reef City Casino. "A customer asked if I ever gambled and I said ‘Yes, every night.’ But I told him I didn’t play the machines, I put on shows, and that is the biggest gamble of them all," he says. The theatre is a gamble for the cast, writer, director, lighting and sound engineers and costume and set designers because even great shows can be scuppered by audience apathy. Multiply that by comedians, musicians, dancers, soap stars and camera crews, and the number of people trying to make a living from the performing arts is enormous. Yet Loring says that based on figures from Equity, a trade union for the entertainment industry in the UK, at any given time only a quarter of them are actually working. Job security is as precarious as a trapeze act — and there is no safety net. The dangerous result is that most entertainers don’t have medical aid or even a hospital plan, no pension fund...

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