LA's Equity Waiver Plan - Oh How You Vex Me!
I am a theatre girl at heart. I am a theatre girl who dreamed of moving to the Big Apple and belting out Cabaret's "Don't Tell Mama" on Broadway. Although I live in Los Angeles, I haven't given up the dream. I belong to a fantastic theatre company, and truly believe in the west coast theatre scene (stop snickering you New Yorkers, you!). I've done summer stock and plenty of children's theatre. Last year alone I did four professional "equity" shows back to back. I've given up weddings to do shows, and sacrificed a relationship or two for a production.
I wanted an Equity card long before I ever wanted a SAG card. So Why Oh Why do you elude me you little piece of professional plastic?
Los Angeles has this fantastically maddening location specific Equity policy called The 99 Seat Equity Waiver Plan. If you haven't heard of it, I'll give you the rundown. The policy was created to help keep small theatres alive and well in Los Angeles (a noble cause!). Small theatres with 99 seats or less can operate under an Equity Waiver contract. Both union and non-union actors can work at the theatre, although technically it is an "equity house." A small stipend of about $10 per show is supposed to be paid to the actors, although more often than not it is "forgotten" come closing time.
Almost all theatres in Los Angeles operate under this policy. The handful of houses that operate under regular equity contracts require an equity card to get into the audition room. But how do you get one?! I have a day job, so it's just not feasible to crash an audition that may or may not see me at the end of the day. This disconnect between Equity membership and Equity Waiver Theatre is so vexing!
I don't mind doing theatre for free, I just want to be able to accumulate points so that I can get my card. Is that so much to ask?
I know, I know. I could just "buy" my way into Equity after I've been a member of SAG for year. But part of me wants to earn it. Or help change the Equity Waiver policy. Throw us a bone!
(Photo featuring Paul Plunkett, myself & Jaime Andrews in Sacred Fool's award winning production of "La Bete.")