Sunday, December 7, 2008

Actor's Equity

File this post under "Guy is frustrated at the bull that theater world shovels constantly."

I was talking with a friend of mine from the Neo-Classical Ensemble about the upcoming remount of Twelfth Night (which y'all should see, if you're in New York).

I asked about whether NCE had reached the first major breakthrough in the life of a downtown theater company: whether she and her co-workers were being paid for their time. She said no, that wasn't on the cards yet, although if their remount goes well it might be on the horizon. Basically, the only people being paid are the designers from outside the company, or if they're a member of AEA.

She also said that the upcoming remount is going to be $1300 more expensive because, as a remounted showcase, anyone they re-hire has to be Equity, and there has to be an Equity SM. Basically, it forces more Equity into a non-equity company.

Is this good for Equity actors? I guess it is. It creates more work, and while they're working, they're making a basic wage. But it is harder for the company as a whole to work towards sustainability because of the limit of the run, and becomes a problem for the industry.

The problem seems to me to have a similar problem that intellectual property, and maybe organizations like the Auto Industry/Auto Unions. We created a system to protect things that were good. But the system also protected itself--so that the people who were against the system (union-busters) wouldn't be able to dismantle it or ignore it. But now this new system is preserving itself to the exclusion of new systems, new organization, new strains of thought. A new theater company that wants to get on its feet finds their purpose blocked by the AEA.

That's the cycle, I guess, the reason every generation rises and winds up making sweeping changes to the systems around them. Time to be on the lookout for those systems. The League of Independent Theaters looks promising, but I have no clue what they're doing and how it'll work.

No comments: