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Actors on a Shoestring?

July 17, 1988

Because he is an Equity Waiver producer opposed to the Actors' Equity 99-seat plan and lifts his voice loudest in predicting the "end of theater in L.A." if the plan stands and he has to pay his actors, I eagerly turned to Barbara Isenberg's report on Ted Schmitt ("Theater on a Shoestring," July 10).

Well, m'dear, the man is a hero, doncha' know. The single-handed savior of Los Angeles theater. A candidate for sainthood. I had tears in my eyes.

Then I took a second look at the financial statement that accompanied the article: "Fees: actors/stage managers" and "Fees: actor share" amounted to 1.05% of total expenses for 1987.

But, how much of that $12,988.46 budget item went to actors and how much to stage managers? More to stage managers, I bet.

Why more to stage managers? Because, while actors and stage managers belong to the same union, a good stage manager will not work for free. I don't mean to say that stage managers are a greedy lot but, unlike actors, especially Waiver-theater actors, stage managers know their professional worth and demand that they be paid for their talents and expertise. Even the greediest producer knows that a bad stage manager is worse than no stage manager at all and willingly pays for quality. Until actors learn the same lessons they will continue to be exploited and unpaid.

The timing of the article was exquisite. Can we look forward to another before the next Equity meeting? Maybe something to do with the Odyssey becoming the "Lourdes of L.A."?

TERRENCE BEASOR

Santa Monica

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