Previously on Annoying Actor Friend…
Last weekend, as part of a publicity stunt to promote the launching of #SOBLESSED on paperback, I published a significant section from the chapter “On the Road” as a blog. DRUNK HISTORY: The National Tour focused heavily on the SETA contract and the death of the Full Production Contract tour…
Shortly after the blog made it onto Facebook, I received a “follow” from the Actors’ Equity Twitter account. It could have been a coincidence, but I thought they wanted to talk with me about my very pointed concerns. THEY CARE! THEY REALLY CARE!
Then this happened…
What perplexes me about the Actors’ Equity Twitter account is that I HAD JUST POSTED A BLOG referring to our union as a “Bottom” who bent over to service the League of Producers, resulting in six categories of SETA contracts. Did they just not give a shit or had they not even seen it?
I like to think that my Drunk History is the most public calling out of our union’s weak bull shit that has come about in recent memory. Yet, it seemed like their only response was to invite me out for a Gingerbread Latte and stroll through the Bryant Park Holiday Market (which I wouldn’t be opposed to). My only choice was to believe that Actors’ Equity had not read my blog after all.
Then this happened…
Alright then! We know where our union stands. Actors’ Equity Association Don’t Give a Shit! You think honey-badgers don’t give a shit? You thought SMASH didn’t give a shit? They’ve both been dethroned by our very own union.
That statement came from the online representation of the people who negotiate the salaries that pay for our Thanksgiving dinner – and they were like, “LOL! Look at the little people sharing their funny blog! Happy Turkey Day.” #BLOWME. It would have been one thing if my post went ignored, it’s a completely different thing that it was patronized. Actors’ Equity didn’t just belittle me. They belittled every single person who read my blog, related to it, and shared it with others. We were all let down today. At least when SMASH didn’t give a shit, we could drink about it. When AEA don’t give a shit, we can’t afford to drink about it.
I didn’t post the “Old Annoying Actor Friend” touring rant because I wanted to sell some books (but YAY #ShamelessSelfPromotion!). I posted it because the state of national touring is a concern of mine and I was hoping that it started a dialogue – No. Fuck that. I wanted us to get fired up – and not just about this subject. About whatever concern is troubling you. It’s time to band together.
This is our union. I’m not going to pretend I understand how strikes happen, but it seems to me that stagehands, musicians, and the CHILDREN that Newsies was based on have a better grasp on how it can be used to their advantage. Heck, the characters in The Pajama Game went on strike over a 7 1/2 cent hourly raise, yet we continue to sit idly by while our union negotiates DOWN.
The Production Contract tour isn’t completely dead. It’s still alive… kind of. It’s like Buffy after she moved to the UPN (or anyone Lily Rabe has brought back to life on American Horror Story: Coven). It’s not quite the same as it was, but that doesn’t mean we should allow it to continue living a half existence – or worse, let it devolve further.
Every single person with a purple AEA card in their wallet (gold if you’re me, because I’m always late on my dues) has a responsibility. What’s the worst thing that could happen if our representatives walked into touring negotiations and were like, “Um. How about NO!” Are we worried the next SETA Category 6 tour will go out non-union instead? Is that really such a loss if it positively affects us in the future?
We need to get our voice out there in an effort to make our union better before it gets worse. If we sit around accepting our fate, attending auditions for jobs with salaries far below our qualifications, and not saying a damn thing about it, then we’re at the mercy of a union that appears to be laughing off all of our concerns.