AEA President Kate Shindle is Starring in Fun Home at CTG and Pro99 Folks Are Not Happy About It

The Tony Award Winning Musical Fun Home is currently playing at the Ahmanson and is currently has a 100% Sweet rating on the LemonMeter.
The production stars current Actor's Equity president Kate Shindle who recently did an interview with the LA Times. It's a good interview highlighting Shindle's Miss America experience and the activism she's done for HIV/AIDS. But you can't interview the president of AEA without mentioning the very contentious 99 Seat Plan battle. To refresh your memory, AEA has dismantled the 99 Seat Agreement which allowed theatres with 99 seats or less to use AEA actors for a small stipend. Now companies need to pay actors minimum wage, which when you're already working on a tiny budget is simply not possible. Many companies have already gone non-union. Which means less opportunities for LA AEA actors.
Here's what the interview has about the 99 Seat debate:

Although Shindle realizes she's speaking from a privileged perch inside one of the city's largest, most esteemed and well-funded theaters, she has fond memories of doing a 99-seat show at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood in 2002 while she was in town for pilot season.

“That show saved my sanity,” she says. “I believe small theater reminds people that they are, in fact, actors, even if they're not getting TV auditions at that particular moment. It gives them a chance to do what they love.”

On the other hand, for a union, the idea that actors should not aspire to a living wage is a bitter pill to swallow, she says. The compromise Equity made, Shindle adds, was to create membership rules that effectively provide wage requirement exemptions for more than 70% of the regularly producing 99-seat theaters in the county.

To these companies, many of which worry that the exemption could be rescinded at any moment, Shindle would like to say: “If anyone even brings up starting to move the membership companies out of that waiver before the end of my first term [in 2018], and if I'm re-elected, before the end of my second term, I'm going to smack them in the head. We have to let this settle … and we have to be sensitive to the fact that we're all artists.”

This interview has been floating around on Facebook with numerous LA based theatre makers not exactly thrilled that Shindle is here and has taken a job away from an LA actor. Considering Shindle and AEA have said that the new rules will allow for more midsize theatres to flourish (I imagine pigs will fly first) and that it will give its members more remunerative work (so far it's giving them less work as companies go non-union) it seems rather trite for Shindle to say "she did a 99 seat show here once." And that if anyone tries to touch the membership rule (which many companies have been denied) that she'll "smack them" seems a rather empty threat. 


L.A.'s PRO-99 community calls for new referendum as Actors' Equity 99-Seat Theatre Plan comes to an end

Members of L.A.'s “PRO-99” theater community continue to gather signatures to demand a new referendum on Actors' Equity's 99-Seat Theater Plan, which is scheduled to end today.
Despite an overwhelming “No” vote by over 66% of the Los Angeles membership on a referendum put before it last April, the union moved forward to eliminate the existing plan which has been in effect since 1989.
To date, over 1,100 signatures have been gathered from supporters in Los Angles and around the country.
To view a list of signatories, go to http://ilove99.org/2016/07/24/letter-pro99-members-aea/.
The text of the petition is as follows:
Letter to AEA in Support of PRO99's Call for a New Referendum:
We, the undersigned, are dedicated to the survival and growth of Intimate Theatre in Los Angeles. We are actors, stage managers, playwrights, designers, directors, producers and hyphenates of all of the above. We are also audience members, neighborhood restaurants and bars, and local businesses that benefit from the thriving L.A. Intimate Theatre landscape. We are committed to preserving, protecting and promoting theatres of 99-seats or less, not only in Los Angeles but throughout the United States, while defending Actors' Equity Association (AEA) members' rights, privileges and protections when they perform in such venues.
Currently, LA's 99-seat theatres are under unparalleled threat. With arts funding in decline, and at 1/10 of what New York City garners, we are also now faced with an assault from AEA, which seeks to raze the LA intimate theater landscape.
We are PRO99. We are dedicated to ensuring that this does not happen.
A lawsuit by AEA members and producers, on behalf of the Intimate Theatre community, has been filed against Equity.* Pro99 supports this effort and is actively engaging the community in the court of public opinion, and by reaching out to people in all walks of life affected by theatres of 99-seat or less.
Additionally, we support AEA members and Intimate Theatres nationwide that would also benefit from a 99-seat plan that would allow them to incubate and develop new works to eventually go to contract, under vital union protections. We believe these protections and opportunities should be more readily available nationwide, and should certainly be protected, not rolled back, here in Los Angeles.
AEA has put forth a concerted effort to silence us. Our voices are not included in any official union communications, and what communications are issued by AEA are not only one-sided, but filled with misinformation, half-truths, untruths and outright distortions. We will continue to correct the record and put forth our own positive story.
We will also continue to enlist the community in the fight. Plaintiff and Review Committee member Gary Grossman has issued a challenge to AEA President Kate Shindle to make public AEA's plan for 99-seat theatre [due to go into effect December 14, 2016], and we will make a new proposal public . We support Grossman's proposal to have a side by side referendum that will allow LA's union actors to choose between AEA's plan and our own.
Our community is united. We will prevail.
*The lawsuit has been dismissed by a federal judge, but Plaintiff's are currently exploring an appeal.


BREAKING: Judge dismisses suit against AEA

Looks like Judge Hatter has dismissed the lawsuit brought against Equity by Los Angeles actors. For the official court document of the judgement CLICK HERE.
I'm sure there are many companies out there who have already been coming up with plans on how to move forward in anticipation of the case being dismissed. There are already a number of companies who have decided to go non-union for their next season. It will be interesting to see how this will affect our community as well as the already tumultuous relationship with AEA.
More to come as information is released.
***If you'd like to write a response to the news please email the editor Ashley@better-lemons.com