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March 8, 2005

New Member Reception Draws Big Crowd in NYC

Eighty Actors and Stage Managers gathered at the New Member Reception held on February 3, 2005 in the New York office. Emcee duties were shared by Thomas J Miller, Chair of the Eastern Region Membership Education Committee, and Amy Dolan, Equity’s Outreach and Education Coordinator. Councillors Scott Watanabe, Marjorie Horne, and Kristine Nevins were also on hand.

The guest speaker for the evening was Kerry Butler of Broadway’s HAIRSPRAY and LITTLE SHOP OF HORROS. Ms. Butler shared some of her show business stories, including getting into the Union. After receiving her SAG card when she was three for commercials, she admits she always thought, “When I get my Equity Card, I’m really going to be an actress!” Ms. Butler received her Equity Card as a swing on the Broadway production of BLOOD BROTHERS and praised swings everywhere saying, “It’s the toughest job on Broadway! I could never do it for real because I can’t dance. There’s no dancing in BLOOD BROTHERS!” Ms. Butler’s enthusiasm for her chosen career was infectious and sparked a number of questions from the audience.

The evening continued with a presentation by Ms. Dolan, giving an overview of Equity’s history, and the “nuts and bolts” of the Union, among other useful information. Ms. Dolan also related some of her own experiences as a member of the theatrical community and long time Equity member. She spoke candidly about how important Equity was in helping her after she was badly injured during a performance in the Broadway production of 42nd STREET. She stressed the consistency that the Union offers to each of its members, citing the example of going to the MUNY in St. Louis and “not worrying about a thing because Equity had taken care of it all: someone would be there to pick me up at the airport, rehearsals would be conducted in a safe and clean environment and I would get my 18 inches of dressing room space, which is very important when you are sharing a dressing room with ten other girls!”

Practical information about dues, filing a contract before first rehearsal, riders and contract benefits were all subjects addressed in small break-out groups. Conard Fowkes, Equity’s Treasurer, spoke about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, otherwise known as VITA, which just kicked off its busy season.

Photo credit: John Quilty

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