Saturday, February 20, 2016

We Don't Give A Shit About the Theatre - (as Long as our checks clear)

Yes, there's lots of things wrong with our theatre and no one seems to care. Well... many DO care, but they are terrified of being blacklisted. We've encountered this repeatedly.

Up first, our beef with Equity's 34 yr old outdated code. The price was set at a max price of $15 in 1982, and eventually raised to $18. A movie ticket now costs more than a Showcase in Manhattan. (IF raised just for the most standard inflation, the price would now be at least $37.) While EVERY theatre company I've spoken to, including theatre advocacy groups who raise $ to do just this sort of thing, agree-  they are afraid to make any moves against AEA in fears they'll be blacklisted.  If you are afraid of your union, there are BIGGER problems at stake. After 5 years of pleading our case, Equity has allowed us to charge the requested max of $35. We'll see how that turns out as we open in 2 weeks.

The other 'YUGE' problem we have with the current theatre is that in order to audition, you have to lay down $$$$ to get seen. Even when I briefly had a manager, she pushed me to 'pay to audition' for a casting director, who was younger than me, and told me how to do Odets'. 'Do it casually'. Sure, I could do it, "If only music shot bullets (shrug, ho hum)" - I came to learn how stupid many CD's are. Especially those that charge to meet with you.  In my early 20's, I spent a fortune on classes at Actors Connection, The Network, One on One (which was once a reputable casting house) and others.  Since then, I have actors in ReGroup who are at that similar age (and some twice the age - just trying to keep up) telling me they spent $75 for a 5 min audition (and often MUCH more) and it makes me angry! I am overly protective of my actors. Showcases pay little, if anything, but they were a way to be seen and they don't CHARGE you anything.  How can you compare paying to do a 2 minute monologue to being seen in an acclaimed full play? You Can't! (Though, certain agents offer to come to your shows if EVERYONE in the cast pays them. HELL NO!) 

While the leaders of these so called '3 minute classes' used to be Junior Agents at best, they now include Lincoln Center and other seemingly reputable places. It's become the new normal. NO OTHER INDUSTRY WOULD ALLOW SUCH A 'PAY TO PLAY' SCHEME EXISTS. The leaders would be in jail! So why don't our unions do anything about it? I've asked them both, and they say "Their hands are tied." Are they getting kickbacks? I really don't think so, but who knows. They claim as these paid auditions are called 'classes' or 'seminars', they can't stop them. The Attorney General can. It's false advertising. It's illegal.  If the unions can't stop it, then it's up to us to do it. Again, I've gotten so many encouraging replies from actors who are afraid to be blacklisted if they say anything.

I can understand that, but as adults, we all need to take a stand - if not to protect ourselves, to protect the younger versions of us that arrive everyday. As an actor, you have to put a lot of power in other people's hands.  It's time to take it back from the crooks.  ANY ONE who is doing these constant workshops clearly has little power to cast you. (I once traced a CD whom I'd never heard of outside of her 'classes' only to find out she taught at least 8 a week. When does she do her REAL job? She doesn't.) 

By ridding the world of these fake classes, not only will be getting rid of those in the business who are ONLY here to make a buck, we will drive real Casting Directors and Agents to plays to find new talent - as it used to be. The Showcase in NY and the 99 Seat Plan in LA will get its power back. But only if we demand it! It's damn sorry our unions can't/won't do this, but here we go.  Sign our petition against these pay to audition sites:

I've reached out to almost every young playwright, asking for their support, and they've ALL been too are too afraid of being unlikable. It's sad. No wonder their plays premiere at an off-off-bway house and never get another production. Teachers - please, please teach your students that the theatre is not about them.

-For those somehow confused, I, Allie Mulholland, am 'Lefty' - writer of these post. We once had guest writers, but as of now, those remaining are all attributed to me. It's time someone gave thought to the theatre as a whole and not just for their career.