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    Posted December 1, 2009

Statement Of John P. Connolly Upon His Departure As Executive Director Of Actors' Equity Association

November 2009

I came home to my parent union Actors' Equity Association as Executive Director nearly three years ago on a mission with two important elements:

  • To help the union regroup after the terrible tragedy of my lifelong friend Patrick Quinn's untimely death: and,

  • To move forward the process of change and evolution that Patrick understood to be crucial to Equity's ability to survive and thrive in a changing world of theater and live performance.

Happily, I feel that I have made substantial progress toward advancing this mission.

Along the way I also helped to visualize and launch the preparations for Equity's 100th Anniversary; negotiated the Production Contract for Broadway and the Road , and the LORT Regional Theater contract, successfully winning ground-breaking advances in recognition of Actors' intellectual property rights in their images and performances along with compensation for their recording and use.

Together, the leadership and I conducted historic Expanded Regional Board meetings across the country to broadly discuss Equity's strategic direction and priorities.

From these discussions we are expanding and deploying our capacity in Public Policy and Organizing to advance the interests of professional Actors and Stage Managers in every region of the United States.

We have made real impact in the national discussion on health care reform, proper funding for the professional theater arts, and taken clear stands in support of key human rights such as marriage equality.

And we've stood by our fellow Artists and Workers in Solidarity and Friendship in every moment of need.

I have been blessed by the stalwart support of President Mark Zimmerman; by a cadre of visionary elected leaders on Equity Council; and by our dedicated, expert and hard-working staff. And always by the angel on my shoulder, my memory of Patrick Quinn.

I am very proud of the work we've all done together.

And now it is time for me to move on.

Consequently, I will not seek another term as AEA's Executive Director.

My wife Bronni and I knew that my employment at Equity would be a challenge to our marriage, since our primary home is in California and I would be spending the vast bulk of my time at Equity headquarters in New York and on the road. That understanding has proved to be true. Anyone who knows Bronni and her infectious charm, well understands that it is far better to be with Bronni than to have to endure missing her. We want to be together, and that means I must say farewell to Equity as Executive Director.

As well, it has been shockingly painful and passing strange to witness so much extraordinary work on the stages of New York and across the nation, and not be able to perform it myself. Far more painful than I had imagined. I so long to return to the stage and screen as an artist, that I find I must set aside the wonderful sash of Equity office for the uncertain but compelling field of the audition room, the rehearsal hall, the theater, the sound stage.

I've been a full time working Actor since 1971; Acting is the only job I ever had before coming to Equity staff; the Boards beckon me back like Ahab's arm, and I cannot say them nay.

I believe I have given good service and true, but the people of the Theater, primarily my fellow Artists, will be the best judge of that; now I will rejoin them plying the craft that we all love to distraction.

My sincere thanks to all who have been helpful, collaborative, and supportive. My best wishes and affection to all of the people of the Theater -- Artist, Artisan, Worker, Labor Leader, and Employer -- who have made my working life endlessly fascinating and nearly always a joy.

And my gratitude to Equity for giving me this chance to serve.

Exit. Stage Left.

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