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March 19, 2005

Equity And Ithaca:
Alumni and Students Discuss “The Business”

Continuing a tradition that began in the late 80’s, Equity and senior students from Ithaca College’s theater department engaged in the annual panel discussion as part of the Field Studies Program on Monday, February 28. Equity’s sister union AGMA kindly loaned its boardroom at 1430 Broadway for the event as every meeting room in Equity’s offices was occupied, thanks to culmination of the LORT Negotiations. With over 30 Ithaca students and faculty and a panel of 7 representing Equity, the house was standing room only!

Amy Dolan, Equity’s Outreach and Education Coordinator, kicked off the meeting to a rousing start with her informative PowerPoint presentation. “I am not here for the purposes of recruitment,” she assured the students, “but rather to give you information which will allow you to make your own decisions as you move into the world of theater.” The presentation briefly encompasses Equity’s fascinating history and also includes information on how the Union is organized and the wide variety of services provided to its members. Ms. Dolan concluded, “What I want to impart is that you now have someone to come to if ever you want more information.”

One of Equity’s Outside Business Representatives Keith Sklar, a 1998 graduate of Ithaca’s Theatre Program, acted as moderator. Mr. Sklar fielded questions and reassured the students their studies were not in vain. “I graduated from Ithaca in 1998. I am Equity’s go-to on the Smoke and Fog issue, so I am still putting to use the things I learned at Ithaca.”

The panel consisted of several other Ithaca alumni including Equity staff member Karen Nothmann, Equity Stage Manager and Councilor John Atherlay. Equity Actors Tim Jerome and Uriel Menson, also a frequent audition monitor, also sat on the panel, which also featured Linda Mays, president of AGMA. Ms. Dolan and her assistant, Jeff Stanley, elicited some good-natured ‘boos’ upon admission that they were graduates of Fordham University.

The Ithaca students made good use of the Question and Answer session inquiring about several different aspects of Equity, from auditions to working abroad. Mr. Menson, drawing on his experience as a monitor, fielded questions and spoke in great detail about auditions. “I am monitoring an EPA for FIDDLER later this week, so come on by and I will try to squeeze you in!” Mr. Atherlay, currently on tour with THE PRODUCERS, shared his insight as working Equity Stage Manager. Mr. Jerome offered a philosophical approach to the acting industry by stressing the importance of doing good work and letting the Equity Card find its way to you. Ms. Mays spoke about AGMA’s jurisdiction as well as how Equity and AGMA worked together on LA BOHEME and MOVIN’ OUT insuring actors involved in each production were employed on the appropriate contract.

The Field Studies Program at Ithaca brings theatre students to New York to see several Broadway productions and attend seminars hosted by organizations that have a hand in the theatrical industry. Ithaca calls on its Alumni to take part in panel discussions whenever possible. Bringing together Ithaca Alumni and Equity, the annual panel discussion was a great success despite the fact that Fordham graduates were present.

Ithaca students proudly display their new informational packets provided by Equity
Photo credit: John Quilty

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