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January 18, 2008

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Ken Urban

Of course the showcase code has an artistic impact on our work. In negates the possibility of previews. So reviewers are often coming to see the first or second performance in front of an audience. As a writer, I feel my hands are tied to change the script after the audiences start coming. Who wants to freak out the actors like that? Second, it prevents any possibility of extension, which means after 16 shows, that's it. As a writer, you feel like your play had its chance and now its been "produced." Some theatres consider a showcase a production, others don't. But in large part, another theatre company won't touch. There are exceptions to this rule of course.

Zack Calhoon

The problem is it doesn't have to benefit us Equity actors, it has to benefit Equity. We're just paperwork to them. They get no fee or dues from their union members to do showcases. So if there id no money in it for them, there is no interest in it for them.

That is coming from an Equity member.

freeman

I think I've always maintained that actors need to be involved in Code Reform for it to happen.

It's good for everyone.

J.

I agree with Ken Urban. It doesn't benefit actors or Equity...directly. But it does limit the kind and ways in which writers (and producers) develop new plays. Between the restrictions on rehearsal time, performances and budget, it keeps the "showcase" really only useful for that purpose: showcasing actors work in short scenes, meant to garner the actor other work. As it's currently formulated, the showcase code doesn't take into account the reality of how it's being used. Ken nails the issue on the head: no or remarkably few previews, no chance to see how things work with an audience. The other issue I have with the showcase code is the distance between the showcase code and the mini-contract. So, fine, you, your parents, friends, lovers and cast scrape together the money for a showcase of a new work, manage to get good notices, but you can't raise enough for the show to run longer. Even a producing theatre, working on a seasonal showcase, has trouble allowing a show to grow under the current system.

But, yes, the alternate proposals out there don't mean more salary money or health care or better protections for the actors, or more money for Equity and they're the sole gate keepers. It seems that the best thing would be for Equity, the Dramatists Guild and SSDC to sit down and hammer out a new unified production code, at least for NYC. Get everyone on the same page and band together. It's a lovely dream...

Ken Urban

LA has the wonderful 99 seat theater code. My play I (HEART) KANT ran for three months out there in 2001. The theater could do that because all that meant was finding more gas money for the actors. And they could do that because they were doing well. That's what NYC needs: a 99 seat code.

ilannoyed

the difference in budget between what it costs to put on a showcase and what it costs to put up even a small scale equity production in NY is a pretty big leap.

and as far as a $20,000 budget - with what rents are in NY, not just for space, but for lights, etc, that kind of money is not very much.

plus the problem of not being able to extend, no remounting, really don't make alot of sense. maybe if the show had a chance to run for a bit, it could start to generate some income or find a producer willing to move it to a better space and put more money into it - enough, even, to maybe start paying the actors.

having been on both sides of this, both as an equity actor, as well as directing/producing several showcase productions, i think we would all prefer to have a chance to work than to do nothing.

it's too bad they can't find a way to say, figure out some kind of profit sharing - if the production does over X number of dollars in ticket sales(or after recouping costs), then each person involved would get a share of the money based on some kind of percentage - i guess, kinda like what they did in Shakespeares time

ilannoyed

oh yeah - why is it that LA has a different code than NY?? wtf is that about - and why can't NY have the same thing?

nick

ilannoyed - why is it that LA has different weather than NY?? wtf is that about - and why can't NY have the same climate?

Ken, we don’t need no stinkin’ gas money in New York.

Ken Urban

They were a nice company so they gave the actors gas money. At the time, I thought it was sweet and then assumed it was part of the 99 seat code. But still yes, why doesnt NYC try and get a 99 seat theatre code instead of a showcase?!?

nick

Ken,

Gas money was probably used as euphemism for the pay actors receive under the 99 seat plan, $10 per performance.

You are thinking as a playwright not an actor with your questioning. The culture and career opportunities for actors are very different in the two cities. To delineate those differences is a very long discussion, but the obvious one is that New York is the theatre capital of the world and LA is the film capital of the world.

There is an encompassing question for this issue. Why are NYC and LA privileged over cities to have generous codes and plans that allow actors to work without a contract?

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