Posted December 1, 2005
Area Liaison Committee: Working for the Membership
By Gregory Gorton
Since its founding in 1913, Equity has grown as a National Union, with offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orlando, as well as 24 Area Liaison Committees linking the offices and the membership throughout the country.
Liaisons work tirelessly with local membership to improve communication and address local concerns and issues.
From Left to Right:
The Washington/Baltimore Liaison Committee is one of the active and membership-involved groups. Liaison co-chair Bill Largess says, "We are committed to smoothing the path for the local membership in whatever way we can. The committee has volunteered its time and efforts to make sure that our members have the information and access they need to pursue their own careers. Besides these career-oriented ways of offering help, we throw in the sociability of the annual picnic and the social consciousness of our fundraising activities."
Regarding the future, he says, "That will always depend on the makeup of the committee and where its members and the rest of the local membership take us. But I think we all would enjoy more group activities, and I certainly think there are opportunities to have more good times with each other."
Co-chair Ray Ficca sees the sense of community within the work of the committee. "I truly believe people on the committee participate and give of their time for different reasons. There is a wonderful love of the theatre community. The work our liaisons do on our behalf is nothing short of awe inspiring. It is that attitude that keeps me wanting and needing to be involved with our local membership as co-chair."
Ray's goals for the committee are "to make the Washington/Baltimore region strong and viable, working 'all for one and one for all.' Our region has become both a national and international hub for live theatre. We need to constantly find ways to insure that Actors' Equity is a strong presence in our community."
Ilona Dulaski, Chair Emeritus, has been instrumental in creating some of the committee's most popular traditions. She started the annual summer picnic 15 years ago and was a driving force behind the committee's involvement with Art for Now, an event presented on the Washington Mall. Along with fellow committee member and Actors' Center president, Terri Price, Ms. Dulaski started the idea of a raffle each year at the annual League of Washington Theatres' auditions. Prizes are often seats to local productions and the money raised goes to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Food & Friends.
"We have done wonderful things for our region," says Ilona. "We started an Equity-only showcase of scenes, held an Equity audition and let the directors chose which scenes they wanted to direct. The Liaison Committee went through the guidelines of the Members Project Code. We have also held benefits for BC/EFA, including a cabaret series featuring some of Washington's finest musical talent."
Ilona became co-chair of the committee in 1978, working with Gene Morrill as her co-chair, and she is still going full speed. "Five years ago, with the help of the Liaison Committee, we started the Equity Only auditions. These auditions grew out of an annual membership meeting chaired by Jim Brady in which a panel of directors claimed that they would like to see more Equity talent in the area-wide auditions. The actors, in turn, would be granted greater access to the individuals making the casting decisions." According to Ms. Dulaski, "Carol Waaser, Eastern Regional Director, suggested that Equity could discuss it and see if the Liaison Committee could sponsor Equity-Only auditions."
Not only does the DC committee oversee the hotline and bi-annual newsletter, it has received national attention with the production and organization of the annual Equity Only Auditions. Members from Chicago, Cleveland and even Seattle have participated. The auditions will be held on Monday and Tuesday, January 9 and 10, 2006. Each actor will have three minutes to perform a monologue and/or song, and an accompanist is provided. Check the DC/Baltimore hotline, (212) 722-7350, or the Equity Website for updates and sign-up information.