Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Changes to the Showcase Code



Actor’s Equity is making modifications its Showcase Code to increase limits under which the majority of Off-Off-Broadway productions operate. The changes go into effect May 25th 2009, according to documents posted on Equity’s website.


See the details
.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NEW SHOWCASE CODE
FROM: Nick Micozzi
Today's publishing of some long awaited changes to the Showcase Code should be taken as good news. And with a grain of salt.
First, let's be clear: The issues between AEA and Off-Off-Broadway are very tricky. There are many stakeholders from different points of view. There are lots of very passionate opinions and very few clear, undisputable facts. If it were easy, it wouldn't be an issue, and we'd be focused on other things. But at least these changes are a signal that Equity understands that there is value in OOB, that things have changed.
Now, obviously there is more to do in working together to create economically sustainable theatre Off-Off-Broadway. In speaking for myself as a human being and a New Yorker - NOT on behalf of the IT Awards, the Innovative Theatre Foundation, nor any particular company - I am still troubled by a few things:
First, producers and the community at large should fully understand that Equity faces considerable complexities including labor laws, legal considerations, unemployment, overhead costs, the competitive theatre environment, and other issues that make navigating these factors much more difficult. It’s not easy, and folks at Equity have worked very hard to come up with agreement on these Codes.
Second, in turn, there is the murky process by which changes are made in AEA. I understand why clarity and consistency is important, as well as the priority of members' interests, but i don't see why there can't be more transparency in the dialogue and decision-making process. Why wouldn't the Union want to hold public forums on the issues affecting OOB? Or at least focus groups? If they already have or plan to do so in the future, that would be nice for the community to know.
Next, there have been some considerable efforts by various stakeholders to come to the table with ideas. There was the ART/NY whitepaper, followed by various new or altered code models, by folks such as Paul Bargetto and others, offered as starting point tools for use in the discussion. But it's not clear what happened with those artifacts. I’m told they were considered by the Showcase Committee, but what level of discussion came from those artifacts? Were the authors/sponsors asked to talk about them? If so, to what degree? And if not, why not?
And most important and striking to me: Why - as i understand it from numerous Equity members that have experienced this – would AEA consider actors who produce their own OOB shows to be conflicted and therefore prohibit them from participating in the discussion? These are the folks who know the most about the issues in creating healthy OOB. There's no winning endgame for an indie producer to mistreat or take advantage of their actors. Yet it seems there are some members of Equity committees that believe these artists (because they are actor-producers) wouldn't want to pay their friends, and themselves fairly, or help support their own pension and health fund, or otherwise support their union. That is just frankly unthinkable to me. I know many actor-producers, and every one - without exception - does everything they can to make sure artists are treated the best they can, paid as much as they can, and truly have the artists best interests at heart. And anyway, there are easy, effective, low-cost corrections for “Bad Apples”: bad reputation, Equity can restrict production, Actors can always leave showcase productions at any time, etc. Further, actors who do not have experience producing are simply not aware of the intricacies and external limitations a production faces. Just like serving on a committee, it’s a lot more complicated that it may seem from the outside. But the bottom line again is transparency - what could be wrong with more informed voices in the room? You don't have to agree with another's ideas, but at least you've heard them. Knowledge is power. Debate is healthy. Get everyone at the table - it's a truer model of the real world, from which you make more informed - and ultimately wiser decisions.
Again I'm asking as a human - speaking for only myself - who has a vested interest in the sustainability of this theatre, and a very strong desire to be able to pay actors a respectable, living wage. There is a long way to go to get there, as there are many very influential issues far beyond AEA-producer relations. But I believe that Equity and OOB producers are both better off working as allies and partners. OOB was built by Actor-Producers, and now it's a scene that's 40,000 strong. Equity has reached out with these changes. It's up to all of us, now, to work together to keep strengthening relationships and offering outstretched, open hands.Also See Shay's blog about code reform.
What do you think? Does this help? Does it go far enough?

21 comments:

  1. great. it's increased the number of weeks we can pay for rehearsal space and actor stipends but keeps screwing us on any possibility of recouping any expenses. way to go! The fact that they are even looking at this issue is great but...seriously equity?

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  2. So, in short, for a regular showcase production, an off-off-broadway company will now be allowed the same maximum number of performances and same maximum ticket price, but may spend up to $15,000 more. In other words, we're allowed to spend much more per show, but we're not allowed to earn more (other than in grants and contributions)! How exactly is that going to work? As a producer, I do not want my showcase expenses to come anywhere near $35,000, but I would love to be able increase my revenue-- by presenting more than 16 performances and possibly charging more than $18 for my top ticket-- so that I can have a better shot at producing again in the future-- thus showcasing all those wonderful AEA actors. This specific part of the new code does very little to help, in my opinion.

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  3. I agree with Demetrios. I feel that this reform is actually an insult to our intelligence as producers. I understand why AEA would still limit the number of performances as to not over tax their members since they only get a small stipend. I say a compromise to this would be allow 20 performances but a company can only run for 4 weeks. That is only one or two extra performances per week depending if you run 3 or 4 weeks. These extra performances would actually make it possible to break even, highly doubtful but possible. This arrangement would also increase the potential money earned higher than if they raised the ticket price to $20.

    Come on AEA, let's make a real change to the code and stop taking us for amateurs.

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  4. Agreed. This is a great start and a recognition that the code is outdated and in need of change. But the changes aren't particularly helpful except in ensemble companies whose equity members routinely and voluntarily return/refuse their stipends, or companies that have a substantial donation base (difficult in today's economy, to say the least).

    And can someone tell me why the maximum ticket price hasn't increased in however many years this code has been in place, and doesn't seem set to increase in the future? If not according to a set schedule, then why is not tied to inflation? $18 is barely more than a movie ticket these days.

    Next, if the idea is to increase exposure by extending the number of weeks a show may run (great idea), but without taxing the actors (also important), why not tie the number of shows to the number of weeks? Because absent a significant change in theater rental structure here in the real world, renting out a week of a 99-seat theater for four shows at $18/ticket is simply untenable. It's hard enough breaking even at 5 or 6 shows a week.

    And finally, it's time that the showcase code was used to help non-equity members build points towards membership, or a step is put in place between showcase and off-broadway production that allows actors to build towards membership. A non-union actor could spend his entire career doing great showcase productions and never break through that pointless, frustrating, dehumanizing ceiling that is equity membership, and that's simply wrong.

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  5. This is a BABY step in acknowledging the needs of Off-Off Broadway production. IMAX movie tickets are $17.50 - isn't live theater worth more than a MOVIE?
    And, limiting schedules to 16 shows over four weeks means the producer must pay for three dark nights per week - almost 43% of the prime time a production can play - on a weekly rental agreement (which most spaces - all the good locations - require). Yes, the producer may elect to run the 16 shows over a shorter period, but that makes the production less attractive to reviewers, etc., so where's the payoff for the actors? Equity would do well by its membership to bring the Showcase Code into the 21st Century.

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  6. Actually, for clarification to Isaiah, AEA did increase the max ticket price from $15 to $18 with out increasing the expense cap around 2006.

    I think that the increase in budgeted expenses allowed is to reflect the fact that many of us are spending more on producing showcases because the rental costs for rehearsal and theatre spaces has gone up, and that it is nearly impossible to produce a show not in a festival that doesn't come close to the $20k cap. While I agree that this is only a SMALL step, I do believe that it is one in the right direction towards recognizing the economic impact and realities of producing off-off.

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  7. if actors aren't given any salery just a stipend we get overworked. Too many weeks rehearsal too many performances too little money

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  8. Great point, Jackie, and one that can be addressed in solving many of the issues raised in the comments above. A common misconception is that showcase producers don't want to pay actors and stage managers, when in fact they are the first to get paid in many cases. If anything, they'd like for everyone to get paid, which is just not possible (nevermind capital profit for the company) on an $18 ticket.

    I understand not wanting to be taken advantage of; companies that can afford to pay a barely living wage should. There is a distinct difference between being taken advantage of and working hard on a great project with good people who would pay each other if they could, but do not have the means of doing so.

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  9. Jackie, to your point: many showcase producers are, in fact, actors themselves, so we understand the desire to get paid for our work. In fact, we seek it-- it's our goal, as Morgan said! But that's exactly the problem here: if we're limited in our ability to earn revenue, by having these very low caps on number of performances and top ticket price, then our ability to pay anyone now or in the future is hindered.

    It's not as if there's great demand for actors' services so that actors should be protected from non-paying work. The simple, unfortunate truth is that there is a huge supply of actors and very small demand for our services. Most actors, union and non-union, do not, in fact, get to work! So, if anything, we should encourage any opportunity for work that's afforded to them. A non-union friend of mine was complaining to me yesterday that she couldn't get seen at a showcase audition because hundreds of union actors showed up. Union actors seek out showcases, they don't avoid them! Again, if we all had the option to do LORT or off-broadway and broadway gigs, that would be a different matter, but as it is, we don't.

    I'd like to make two other points about the usefulness of showcases for actors. The first is that much of the rest (that is outside the union) of the community does see value in showcases. In particular, leading press outlets frequently review them, sometimes having good praise for them. So, a certain union actor who doesn't have the chance to work much but who managed to get into a showcase, did good work and got a nice write-up in the Times, now has a strong quote to market himself with.

    The second point is that practicing the craft is indispensable for an actor's improvement. Taking classes and working on one's own are certainly valuable but not enough. There's nothing like going experiencing a rehearsal process with other actors and directors (and seeing how they work), and then performing in front of an audience a number of times to make one a better actor. The more opportunities an actor (union or otherwise) has to do this, the better s/he will become-- and then s/he will have a better chance of getting cast in better paying productions. Surely that's a win for the actor, and another reason why we should nurture showcases.

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  10. Fair point, Abby. I wasn't on the producing side of things in '06 (heck, I wasn't long in the city at that point) so wasn't aware that was the last increase. Still, that was forever ago in theater terms, and it's time for another adjustment. A monthly metrocard, for instance, cost $76 in 2006; by the end of this month it will cost $89, with further increases in the near future. And obviously rent has gone up, too. Time to start charging letting theater companies charge $20 or $22. If the show is any good, the audience will come. If it's not, they aren't going to show up for $18 tickets, either.

    Regardless of the price stickiness, I think my other points still stand on their own. As has been said, theater companies working OOB would love to pay their actors, but there's almost no way to break even with these limits in place.

    The showcase code may have started its life as a way for actors to do vanity projects, but it's become the default method of OOB productions, largely because nothing better exists. It's time that the Code reflected this reality, and/or that something was put in place between showcase and contract (ie OB) productions.

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  12. Equity was formed to protect actors and stage managers who were being abused and taken advantage of by producers, and we (theatre practitioners in the United States) are fortunate to have them to protect these artists’ rights. I’m speaking here about limiting the number of continuous rehearsal hours, mandating breaks, enforcing safe work environment standards, providing a forum for grievances to be heard, etc. These are essential issues which I think we all agree on.

    The unfortunate side-effect of this is that it automatically casts the producer as a potential-abuser just waiting for the opportunity to abuse. It creates an environment of mistrust that’s antithetical to collaboration, which is the cornerstone of theatre.

    There is an animosity and antagonism between Equity and Off-Off-Broadway. I think that there are three reasons for that:

    1. The status quo has set us up to constantly be in the other’s way. (and the mistrust mentioned above contributes to this)

    2. There is little (if any) communication between Equity and the Off-Off-Broadway community.

    3. We see each other as an obstacle not as a partner. This also implies a mutual lack of respect.

    These 3 things have nothing to do with specific codes or contracts, but building an enduring relationship that will allow us to work together. Until we find a way to address these issues, we will not be able to rectify the situation and the animosity and antagonism will continue to grow.

    Personally I believe that the showcase code is fine for showcases. But I will estimate that 95% of the shows being produced on the showcase code are not showcases as Equity defines them. (I would encourage Equity to research that.)

    A new OOB code is required to acknowledge and preserve the realities of our theatrical ecosystem, and I would encourage Equity to consult their actor/producer members about it. Like Nick pointed out, more than anyone else, these individuals are conscious of the challenges that face BOTH the Equity actors working OOB and the producers producing OOB. Currently these people are being disinvited to participate in the discussion, when in fact their perspectives might be the most valuable.

    And honestly I am so tired of this environment where we don’t talk to one another. There has got to be more open communication. Much of the resentment towards Equity is because our community feels as though we are yelling into a void. If Equity would be more transparent, communicating the issues and complications with instating a new code or changing the existing code or providing reasons for the decisions they make, our community would not only be more patient and understanding, we might actually be able to help solve this dilemma. Likewise, I think our community has to put aside some of the anger and defensiveness and look for opportunities to demonstrate that we are ethical and our work is valuable.

    Efforts have been made on both sides, but it’s a hard nut to crack and it is a long term issue that is going to take consideration, care and diligence.

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  13. I agree that this baby-step is a huge step in the right direction. We haven't seen this much change for a while. Just the fact that alteration occurred is worth a celebration.

    (1) Raising the budgeting caps for basic showcase code is wonderful – as we all know, rising costs in living expenses bring about rising costs in producing.

    (2) Raising the ticket-price of the seasonal showcase code really assists with off-setting rising costs in producing.

    (3) Raising the number of weeks allowed for performances under the seasonal showcase code neatly fits 2 shows in rep where beforehand 2 shows in rep would have spilled over the maximum amount of weeks allowed. In no way, however, does the extra week assist with the mounting of one show. The only thing it does is it creates more dark nights that the company ultimately has to pay for.

    Where do we need to go from here?

    (1) Raising the rehearsal weeks for the basic showcase code is commendable but not helpful. We need to raise performance weeks along with raising the number of performances. Exposure does not exist during rehearsals – it only exists during performances. If the actors union wants to expose their actors to industry and press (and, thus, increase the opportunity to make money off of us) this is the way to do it.

    In addition, I have never heard of an actor feeling abused by the number of performances over the span of the maximum weeks allowed. The code allows actors to leave a performance at any time. The actor is well-protected when it comes to this area.

    (2) Raising the ticket price can only help companies, the actors, and the union.

    a. Company – It's a given. If revenue increases, the company will better prosper. Monies can be utilized not only for keeping the company in the black but also for PR, grant writing, ***insert expense that assists in company growth/exposure***

    b. Actor – If the company prospers, then actors will have an increase in artistic exposure as well as artistic expression. If the company begins to rise above the basic showcase code, now the actor is making more money.

    c. The Union – Providing revenue opportunities to companies only increases the chance that these companies may escalate from being a showcase company to being a contract company. If more companies utilize contracts in years to come than they do today, this increases profitability for the union.

    CONCLUSION
    At the moment, these codes are only discussed in committee – you cannot freely come to discuss. You must be invited to come after one signs up. I have just signed up and I urge all AEA actors to do the same (please note that actors that are producers that have signed showcase paperwork are not eligible).

    HERE IS MY OFFER –To follow the steps of Leonard Jacobs, let us create an Independent Theatre think-tank where showcase individuals can discuss desired changes and the strategy of implementing those changes. Then those of us involved in the committee will bring the argument to the fore-front. A case is only as good as the details within. It takes many minds (and I am sure that law firms would agree with me) to formulize an argument backed up by detail to create a sort of checkmate or endgame. If we remain silent and inactive, then change is not possible.

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  14. An ADDENDUM to Point #3 -- The reason that raising the number of perfomance weeks doesn't help the mounting of one show is because the cap on the number of performances hasn't gone up. This is why it creates more dark nights if one takes advantage of the additional week.

    Sorry -- I wasn't too clear on Point #3.

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  15. Here is one of the issues as I see it. One of the reasons I always have such mixed feelings about Showcases is that our time as actors is SO often wasted. I admire how many people here have said that they are actor/producers. But I have to say that in the MANY of these productions I have done the vast majority are ego-run productions by vaguely delusional creatives. As I recall, the rehearsals are supposed to be at the convenience and schedule of the actor. Usually, we are expected to essentially drop everything we are doing to rehearse when they want to rehearse. And then is the part that ALWAYS sticks in my craw. We run out of rehearsal time and have a huge nasty mess of a show. So we are put in the position as professional actors of wanting to be in an embarrassingly amateurish show, or illegally rehearsing for MANY more hours to polish the show. Guess what always ends up happening.....we ALWAYS rehearse more. Furthermore, the entire purpose of showcases has sort of been co-opted for the professional actor. I adore performing, and I need to perform. There are some very interesting shows out there that I have truly enjoyed doing when I had the funds to be able to work for a month with no money. But the era of agents, casting agents etc...coming to shows are more or less done. I got my present agent from a showcase maybe 7 years ago...but he didn't actually come to see it. I got a good review in the Times so he called me and said "I don't want to see the show but i want you to come to my office and audition." But I think way too many young actors are being suckered into doing free work for vain (and often wealthy) 'creatives' in the vain hope of being 'discovered.' I've also been a part of several showcases that were unofficial producers rehearsals. And, when the time came to do the actual production, all original actors were cut loose....hours of our lives thrown away for nothing. Also, as someone else pointed out, often these showcases are being done with full staging, costumes, lighting and orchestration.... I don't know what the answer to these issues is...but I do know that I TRULY have a love/hate relationship with these shows.

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  16. I just want to know who these producers are who actually WANT to pay actors and stage managers. I have worked for company after company who flouts the equity rules and spends more than 20k anyway, but never thinks to pay the professional actors they are working with more than a metrocard.

    I think you get what you pay for in theater most of the time, and the best way for companies to develop is to pay actors and stage managers what they're worth. Why aren't more people angry about not getting paid to do showcases? Didn't we all go to school to be professionals, and don't we want to make a living wage doing what we do?

    I totally agree with making the showcase code a way to get points towards AEA membership.

    And a hint to OOB producers: the way to get actors to want to work with you and Equity to take you seriously is to treat people better than Equity requires. If you all banded together to pay people better than AEA scale, you would have equity members hollering so loudly to work with you that you would get a new OOB code passed in a heartbeat!

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  17. [part 2]

    - The OOB actor/producer as a self-aggrandizer. I do not have aggregate statistics on this, of course, so I can’t say what percentage of showcases is produced with the goal of serving the producers’ egos. To be sure, there are some such, and Mark’s point is well-taken. But as a counter-example, I can say this: my company has produced five shows in the past three years. I have not acted at all in one of them, have taken small roles in two of them, and have played big roles in the other two. In other words, in 60% of my shows I was in a support position. This is to say nothing of the amount of time and money that my co-producers and I have invested in these shows— time and money which dwarfs the time and money contributions made by anyone not producing these shows. I’m certainly not trying to make myself into some kind of hero, nor am I suggesting that actors, designers, etc, should match the time and money that OOB producers invest. Rather, I wish to suggest that there are OOB producers with earnest goals about the work and about the success of all involved. I’m sure there are producers in the OOB whose contributions have been quite a bit more significant than mine, and those folks deserve to be recognized as legitimate theatre professionals, not shysters who try to take advantage of the artists they work with.

    Finally, I'd like to add that today it's quite easy for an actor to do due diligence on a company. I certainly do that before going to an audition for any kind of project (from OOB all the way up). Nobody’s forcing actors to perform in showcases!! If a certain actor does not want to do non-paying work, or if s/he’s skeptical of the quality of a particular showcase, s/he is free to choose not to do that show, or any other non-paying show! There’s plenty of press out there for the work that most OOB companies have done, which should give actors a decent idea of the quality of those companies.

    As for the two things that I and others have highlighted here as necessary for the advancement of OOB (an increased top ticket price and more performances per show), these would surely not be much help to a producer who does bad work (whether self-aggrandizing or not). If the show’s no good—and if it is, the press will certainly point it out as such—then more shows or a higher ticket price won’t help much: few people will buy tickets! I would think that the request for higher ticket prices and more performances would support the better productions—and surely those productions are worth supporting!

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  18. POSTED FOR DEMITRIOS: (part one of his previous comment - blogger glitch)

    There are several sides to each issue... This is certainly a sensitive topic, and I think all the opinions expressed here are to be respected. Perhaps trying to consider some statements made so far in a less than absolute way may help the discussion along.

    - I've said before that I and other OOB producers aim to pay actors. Well, this is true (it's true for me, and I know it is so for certain other producers and companies), but I certainly cannot speak for everyone in the OOB world. I'm sure there are some OOB producers or companies who either don't worry about paying actors or, even if they do, are not capable of getting there, through a lack of artistic or administrative ability. (Note: plenty of us, regardless of artistic or administrative ability, struggle to get there simply because the rules of the game are almost prohibitive.)

    - “You get what you pay for” (moppetros' recent comment): perhaps, or perhaps not. When it comes to the quality of the work, does an audience member get what s/he's paid for at a $100 Broadway show that's so bad it closes in just a couple of weeks? Surely not. Conversely, did someone who paid far less for a Vampire Cowboys or a Potomac Theatre Project or a Rabbit Hole Ensemble show get what s/he's paid for? I would say not: these are all celebrated, well-reviewed, award-winning OOB companies, so when you pay $18 for one of their shows, you're getting more than your money's worth. (Note: I have no personal affiliation with any of these companies.) What about actors: who's better off? Someone in a tiny role in a mediocre Broadway show (or even a good one, at that) who gets $1,600/wk, or someone who gets to play Iago, Azdak, Rosalind, Teach, Blanche or a fantastic new character in a great OOB production—but only gets a small stipend for it? Obviously the former is far better off financially (at least at the moment), but doesn’t the latter get greater artistic fulfillment—and doesn’t the latter also improve as an actor for having played such a great role? Now, I’m not saying that every actor on Broadway only gets to play tiny roles, or that all OOB productions are great. Rather, I’m making a point that should go without saying: a high-paying gig may be terrible, and a non-paying gig may be amazing (and, of course, the opposite may also be true).

    - Also on the "you get what you pay for" score: several AEA actors who have performed in shows that my company has produced have told me and my co-producers "I know I'm getting much more out of this than I'm giving back to you." I'm not saying this in order to brag (and, to be sure, there's plenty that I wish my company would do better), nor am I suggesting that this constitutes conclusive proof that ALL union actors in OOB shows get more than they give. Rather, I'm suggesting that the opposite is not an absolute rule, either. While moppetros and Mark’s experiences are certainly valid, I’m just trying to balance that out by saying that there are AEA actors who feel quite differently about the OOB world.

    - I and some of the folks commenting here may have appeared to be vilifying AEA regarding showcase regulations. That’s probably not fair, either. Just as I think OOB companies frequently do not receive proper treatment in this matter, it is only fair to also say that at times the same is true for AEA, as well. No side (AEA, the OOB producers, the individual actors, etc) is an absolute villain or an absolute hero. I'd point to Shay's post as a good, fair and sober assessment of the situation.

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  19. IN RESPONSE TO MARK

    Before I offer a retort, my congrats for getting an agent. I have been in NYC for a long time and that has been a struggle.

    Secondly, I must agree with you that there is a percentage of indie theatre companies that are poorly run....however this is a percentage. Taking your experiences and equating all of indie theatre as self-grandizing producers wanting to play leads, unprofessional, unorganized, poor quality and failure to abide to the showcase code is a bit extreme and general.

    That being said, such behaviors do exist in the indie theatre world.

    Here is my suggestion to you :

    (1) IF a production company is unprofessional, wastes your time, mounts work that you are not proud of or embarrassed to be a part of, etc.....write them off. Never work with them again. By such behavior and shoddy organization, they lose the honour of having your talent in future productions.

    (2) If a company blatantly disregards stipulations laid out in the showcase code, report them. If you are supposed to get paid a stipend and you don't get paid, call AEA. If mandatory rehearsal time is being abused or over-extended, call AEA.

    Sheisters exist in all aspects of business. That is why we have the BBB and the SEC when it comes to commerce and finance. The AEA serves as a force that can blackball companies that utilize AEA actors and refuse to follow the rules.

    We have all experienced these frustrations in Indie Theatre, but you as the actor have the power to avoid frustrations.

    (1) You can quit a show any time you like just by writing an e-mail or letter to the producer. AEA allows you to leave whenever you like.

    (2) Report illegal action to AEA (i.e. your story about being cut-loose before the production mounts is illegal -- a director and/or producer CAN NOT DO THAT)

    (3) Filter your talent towards companies and directors you respect. Remove from your roster companies that wastes your time or puts on medicore/poor productions.

    Give Indie Thaeatre a chance.....for these reasons.....

    (1) You got your agent from showcases. Indie theatre did, in face, benefit your career.

    (2) Industry people still come to showcases. I believe you are right that it used to be more frequent, but saying "it is over" is extreme. I have had a nice handful of casting directors and agents come to productions I am in this past year.

    (3) The quality of work in OOB is pretty astonishing when you hit a pure jewel. It is also a ladder of opporunity for artists. The movie Finding Neverland emerged from The Workshop Theatre. Ensemble Studio Theatre still works with John Patrick Shanley and David Mamet on pieces that commercial theatre is hard-pressed to take a risk on. Last week I saw an amazing production from Cross-Eyed Bear Productions. Indie Theatre (like Indie Film) is the home for undiscovered/new talent. The only way to be discovered (as you have experienced by getting your agent) is through exposure.

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  20. I do think there is a need for actors to get the opportunity to grow and play all the classic roles, demitrios-- I just don't think that actors should join AEA until they are ready to fully comit to the idea of being a professional actor, professional meaning in this case meaning "making a living wage by working as an actor."

    It's not that I don't think that OOB is important, or that I think people shouldn't do theater if they don't want to be professionals. I just think the industry as a whole would be better off if OOB was done entirely non-union, so producers had the chance to make their money back and actors and directors didn't have any restrictions on realizing their visions.

    Then the union members would actually be able to make a living wage, instead of constantly getting sold out by other members who went professional too early and are still desperate to get a shot to play Hamlet.

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