Thursday, December 4, 2014

Actors Equity vs the Artistic Theatre or (Art Perverses Commerce)

What did I mean when I made the comment that "The Revolution is Coming" in regards to Equity's ancient Showcase code? (Which AEA retweeted!) Whatever I meant, many of you literally 'liked it.' We want to work with Equity to rewrite this archaic code, which still mandates the maximum charge of $18 for admission. That is $3 more than it was in 1982 and still less than a Manhattan movie ticket. (Social Media, Email, Blog reviewers, etc have all changed the field since the "Showcase code" was created). ReGroup has been working on this for years, and even have had a gracious, thoughtful meeting with Equity President Nick Wyman in early 2013. While the meeting was to be followed up with another, it yet has been, and we've had radio silence.
Small companies are getting angry and desperate, and for good reason! While Nick said, "You can't expect to make money in the theatre," I told him, I'm not asking to MAKE money, I'm asking for a tiny chance not to lose our shirts so we can continue bringing important theatre to NY, and republishing these amazing Group plays for companies worldwide. (I've actually forked over any 'spare money' and a lot of my credit to bring these works to life, and I did so willingly.  Our actors are volunteers. We have an Oscar Winner, many Tony Winners, Multi-Obie winners in our shows, and they all will work for free as they believe in the Theatre (Capital 'T') - not just in filling their wallets. Fulfilling work, by considerate employers, is worth more than gold.  Certainly Equity had/has a reason to exist, but in this age of social media, if a producer is an ass, it will be spread within minutes.  No one, from pizza parties to birthday cakes, treats their actors better than we do. I try to right all the wrongs I experienced as an actor in my 20's.
Some actors want to be stars, and that is totally  fine, but most want to make a difference. The Showcase code does not allow for the latter.  It's all about transaction.  If a painter wants to paint, or an actor wants to produce their own one woman show, (or a hater wants to hate) they shouldn't have to seek Big Daddy Union's permission. We've heard that the union is worried we will "exploit ourselves". While that is utterly ridiculous, it's much better we do it than a pervert producer who can pay the union salary. While it's most likely they're out to protect the big money earning Broadway theatres from the little revolutionaries, it's clearly and ridiculously out of date. (1982? Are we all still supposed to be drinking TAB?) The ancient Showcase code is the main symptom crippling the Fabulous Invalid.  In the theatrical 'ecosystem', if the little plankton can't take risks and flourish, the "BIG FISH" at the top of the food chain will die miserably. It's Art!! (Or at least it should be.) Equity's lack to keep the Showcase code relevant has majorly contributed to the 'schools' who charge $40 for a 3 minute 'class' with a Casting Director.  This is now the main way talent gets seen. It's unethical and destructive to our theatre. AEA,why aren't you protecting talent from the vultures?  A class-action lawsuit is going to happen eventually, and it will show how much strength our union has.
#FiCore? #NewArtistUnion?

2015 will see the most massive changes in the Off/ Off-Off-Broadway scene in ages. ReGroup is honored to even be a part of that.  AEA is with us or against us.  #TowardABetterTheatre
Allie Mulholland