Posted June 17, 2008
National Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) Week
Equity works collectively to build and deepen connection to future members
Commencing May 5th, EMC events and gatherings were hosted in ten cities throughout the country by Area Liaisons, Equity Councillors, Committee Members and Equity Staff. The meetings were a resounding success, connecting EMC's with other actors and stage managers in their respective cities. EMC's were provided with Equity swag, EMC centric informational handouts and refreshments. Each gathering reflected the unique personality and spirit of the city in which it was held.
Kevin McMahon, Equity Councillor and Chair of the Entry To Equity Committee, which oversees the EMC program nationally, hosted the Los Angeles event. "The primary purpose of National EMC week is to provide an opportunity for our future members to gather information and network with current members and to connect with fellow candidates on their path to Equity membership" said Kevin. "If the excitement at the Los Angeles event is indicative of the other meetings, Actors' Equity can look forward to a bright future with these informed and enthusiastic future members in our fold".
In recognition of National EMC week, the Atlanta Liaison Committee invited local EMC's to attend their monthly committee meeting. The group enjoyed sandwiches and snacks, followed by a discussion and Q & A session led by Liaison Chair Karen Howell and members of the Committee. Local EMC's were also invited to the Committee's 4th annual Tony party.
In Chicago, a lively group of EMC's met with CRB member and recent Helen Hayes Award winner E. Faye Butler, actor Richard Strimer and Equity's Chicago staff to network about the Chicago and Midwest theatre scene. The event was organized by the Membership Education Committee, chaired by Central Regional Board Member Ariane Dolan.
Tracee Paterson and the Cleveland Liaison Committee hosted an EMC Appreciation Table at the Cleveland Playhouse & Great Lakes Theatre Festival Equity Principal Auditions. Nearly 25% of the area's EMC's stopped by to chat with AEA members about local contract opportunities, best practices, and professional development. Many also took advantage of the opportunity to audition for the two LORT theatres.
Denver, Liaison Chair, Lindsey Hanahan and Committee member Susan Long found the attending EMC's enthusiastic and very eager to generate positive word of mouth amongst other non-union folks.
In Los Angeles, the event was moderated by AEA Outside Business Representative Oscar Garcia, and included guest speakers Councillor S. Marc Jordan, EPA/Monitor Chair and Councillor Michael Dotson, and AEA staff members Michael Van Duzer and Joe Garber. EMC's had the opportunity to ask specific questions and clarify the rules of the program, learn about the benefits of Equity membership and sought practical career advice for the Southern California marketplace.
Philadelphia Liaison Chair, Christopher Sapienza, Philly Stage Manager Association Chair, Margie Price, and AEA Stage Manager, Wayne Dansbury, started things off by telling how they had received their Equity cards. EMC's shared where they were in their respective career paths and what their goals were. Many just wanted to know how things worked under a union contract. Chris, Margie, and Wayne then gave pointers on health insurance, salaries, tax tips and various other things that someone in the union would need to know. EMC's were given a care package of AEA materials that included AEA at a Glance, 90 Years of AEA, The Philadelphia AEA Newsletter, a list of all EMC theatres in the country and of course....SWAG and FOOD and DRINKS!
Mill Mountain EMCs
Mill Mountain Theatre Equity Deputy Judy Leavell celebrated EMC Week with the resident EMC's. "It was a big hit here in Roanoke, VA" said Judy. "The recognition meant a great deal to them!" Judy is also a member of the Atlanta Liaison Committee.
The South Florida Equity Liaison Committee hosted a gathering for EMCs on Monday, May 5th. The meeting was held at Bennigans, in Davie, FL, where the committee holds its monthly liaison committee meetings. The EMC's that attended were enthusiastic and full of questions. Each seemed eager to join the union and already appeared to have a sense of pride in being a part of Actors' Equity. They also expressed how grateful they were that the union organized such an event. One attendee exclaimed, "I opened my email and there was this invitation from Actors' Equity. I thought, 'Wow, they care about us EMCs'. National EMC week is a terrific idea and I can see it growing with each passing year."
In San Francisco, nearly 40 EMCs and Equity members joined Bay Area Advisory Committee Chair Kelly Ground and BAAC members Bert van Aalsburg, George McRae and Katja Rivera for an afternoon of information and networking. Held Sunday, August 17, the informal meeting allowed future Equity members an opportunity to ask questions about the union and interact with fellow Bay Area actors and stage managers. Topics covered included everything from taxes and health care to empowering ourselves as artists. Attending the event were Western Regional Director Mary Lou Westerfield, Western Regional Vice President Doug Carfrae, Business Representative Bethany Umbach and National Entry to Equity Chair Kevin McMahon. Said McMahon "the primary focus of these events is to lift the mystery about Equity membership and allow for an open and honest dialogue with our future members. The terrific attendance and enthusiasm displayed, is testimony to the hard work of the BAAC."
The Minneapolis/St Paul gathering was held in St Paul at a kitschy neighborhood lounge with couches, board games and old Atari video systems. EMC's mingled with Liaison Chair Joey Babay and Committee members, and were excited about the long term prospects of Equity membership.
Washington/Baltimore Liaison Committee
Outgoing Liaison Chair Ray Ficca and members of the Washington/Baltimore Liaison Committee hosted a vibrant gathering and covered fundamentals relating to Equity membership, the specifics of competing in the Washington Baltimore theatrical market and elements of the business in general.
On Thursday May 8th, in the New York Equity Office, EMC's were greeted by Councillor Ruth E Kramer and Tom Miller, National Director of Outreach and Career Development and EMC Coordinator. They were then asked to introduce themselves and to give their respective hometowns - which ranged from Missoula, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to Atlanta, Georgia to Brooklyn, New York. Speakers at the event included Equity Councillors Linda Cameron, and Bob Knapp, Equity Executive Director John Connolly and Director of Membership, John Fasulo.
Special guest of the afternoon was Matt Cavenaugh, currently starring on Broadway in A CATERED AFFAIR. A former EMC, Matt joined Equity in 2002. The Arkansas native attended Ithaca College and appeared in regional productions before making his Broadway debut in URBAN COWBOY. He also appeared on Broadway in GREY GARDENS. Matt gave personal and candid insights about auditioning and the biz. He stressed the importance of keeping a true sense of self, of finding your own personal humanity: "Be a person, not a robot, when you walk into an audition. When the audition is over, for better or worse, let it go."
Proud DC EMC member
He further recommends tearing up audition sides once the audition is over, so you can forget about it, literally and figuratively. "If an audition does not go well, remember, its just one audition." Not being cast has much more to do with the perception and subjectivity of those casting then with the talent and abilities of the Actor. He advised the Membership Candidates to develop all of their skills-singing, dancing and acting. For example, if you are a non-musical Actor, take voice lessons. There are many more auditions for musicals than for plays and the number of plays "with music" is increasing. Continue to stretch and grow. "The business is tough," he concluded to nobody's surprise, "but infinitely rewarding".
Equity Councillors Linda Cameron, and Bob Knapp led a Q & A discussion about EMC audition privileges and shared personal insights and tips about auditioning in New York. Specifically, the first day of a multiple day audition in NYC tends to be the least well attended. Know who you are and what you are truly right for. Even if you suspect a role is already cast, please understand, a role is not considered cast until a contract is signed - you never know, they may loose the Actor to another project or may need understudies or replacements. Finally, for any given show, it is not Equity's decision whether EMC's or non-EMC's will be seen in the course of the day. It is the decision of the Producer or Director or Casting Director.
Equity Executive Director John Connolly spoke passionately about Equity and the necessity of unions in today's corporate marketplace. The rights of working people are upheld by Unions, who through negotiation, demand fair and equitable salary, work rules, and benefits on behalf of their members. He noted that Equity is currently negotiating the Production Contract, and using that as a context described Equity's negotiating process and explained the meaning of collective bargaining. Additionally, he elaborated on Equity's member driven governing structure and expressed the pride and excitement Equity feels as it approaches its 100th birthday in 2013.
John Fasulo, Director of Membership, provided an overview of the EMC program. Here are some reminders: