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Newbie has a question

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Newbie has a question#0
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:14pm
Hi. I am a long way from NYC and the shows we get are national tours. We were recently treated to the "Non-equity" Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Full Monty (AMAZING VOCALS - truly unreal). These are listed in the playbills as "Non-equity" shows. What does "non-equity" mean? School me, people. Thanks!
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re: Newbie has a question#1
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:19pm
Actors' Equity Association is the labor union representing over 45,000 American actors and stage managers working in the professional theatre.
For 90 years, Equity has negotiated minimum wages and working conditions, administered contracts, and enforced the provisions of our various agreements with theatrical employers across the country.

http://www.actorsequity.org/home.html
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re: Newbie has a question#2
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:25pm
Thanks. Am I wrong to see a "non-equity" show? If we wait for only union shows, our stage will be dark for a LONG time.
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re: Newbie has a question#3
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:26pm
I think you should see any show you can regardless of it's union status.
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re: Newbie has a question#4
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:26pm
No no no! Not at all! Non-Equity doesn't necessarily mean BAD. It just means that they aren't affiliated with the Actor's Equity Association, which is where most actors get "big-name" jobs (Broadway, Off-Broadway, Film works stuff...)
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re: Newbie has a question#5
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:31pm
Oh GOOD! I would hate to think that I was contributing to screwing these actors out of the compensation they so greatly deserve.

Even from the second balcony of my season passes (all FOUR shows) to the Broadway Series of my local theater, live theater is just the best.
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re: Newbie has a question#6
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:35pm
Being a non-Equity actor, maybe I shouldn't say this, but...

At least as far as tours go, "non-Equity" often does mean "bad," or "amateurish" at least. There are many, many highly-talented actors who choose not to join Equity (or, as in my case, who are just starting out and plan to join eventually), but from my experience, the non-Equity tours are usually not very good, if not because the performers are "bad," necessarily, then because they are too young to really be good enough to be performing under in a show that presents itself to the public as a Broadway production.
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re: Newbie has a question#7
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:42pm
oh come now, we all have to start somehwhere. even if these are just amateurs, they need support so that they can grow and become more professional. go and support non-equity!
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re: Newbie has a question#8
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:47pm
They can practice on me. I'm such a fan of theater, it doesn't have to be very good. Fortunately, TMM and The Full Monty were very good. I still can't get over the harmonies from TFM. Beautiful voices and tight harmonies in a show mostly know for tight... well, you know. :)
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re: Newbie has a question#9
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:50pm
The argument in the past is that First National Tours should be Equity. Non-Equity actors can "start out" like actors have for decades---regional theatre and in bus and truck tours.

Quality can be an issue, but the main issue is that non-Equity actors and stage managers are not guaranteed the same pay, safety, and protections that Equity actors and stage managers are via the rules set by the 90+ year old union.

Every non-Equity touring actor and stage manager I know has said that while they usually enjoyed the experience, it was not the most ideal. Living situations could be bad, time between travel and performance can be bad, no overtime, having to move sets (not in character), etc. These are not the things a professional actor or stage manager should have to contend with--and certainly do not in an Equity production, whether on Broadway or in a regional theatre.

I do applaud those non-Equity producers who do offer pay and conditions comparable to Equity's.
Updated On: 11/18/05 at 09:50 PM
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re: Newbie has a question#10
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:55pm
These that I am seeing are one nighter, bus and truck deals. Do they actually sleep on those buses as they travel overnight from here to the next stop?
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re: Newbie has a question#11
Posted: 11/18/05 at 9:56pm
Well, then you should definitely support them!
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re: Newbie has a question#12
Posted: 11/18/05 at 10:00pm
I totally support non-Equity actors. I'm one myself! Here in Chicago I've seen some BRILLIANT non-Equity theater, as good or better than some of the things I've seen on Broadway.

I'm just saying that non-Equity tours should not promote themselves as Broadway productions, because many of the non-Equity actors they use are not Broadway level (or rather, what most people consider to be "Broadway level").