Author Topic: Changing professions  (Read 5406 times)

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JenniferEver

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Changing professions
« on: Jul 12, 2006, 12:40 am »
I'm just starting out as a SM, but what I really want to do is direct (I sound like a broken record). I'm looking at soem ASM gigs which could lead to an AEA card. My question is, say I decide to do some acting and I am in AEA as an SM, am I an Equity actor (as in restricted from doing community stuff, etc)? Also, more importantly, if I join AEA, and then move to directing, will provisions in my equity membership prevent me from directing non-union shows? There's some proviso about respecting other unions (totally my paraphrase) and I don't know if that would mean I'd have to do only SSDC shows, or only equity shows, or what? If that's true, I really should NOT join AEA, because then my Directing career would be DOA. I'd have to somehow join SSDC and only do union shows, but who would hire a novice on only union shows?

I'm really new to this so I'm trying to figure out all of the implications

ReyYaySM

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #1 on: Jul 12, 2006, 09:32 am »
As AEA is the union for Actors and Stage Managers, yes, any show you do as an actor or as a stage manager must be union once you are a member.  There are many actors who SM to get their Equity card because they find it an easier route for them than the acting one.  Please consult the AEA website, http://www.actorsequity.org, for further details. 

I'm unsure of the relationship between AEA and SSDC and the implications membership in AEA would have on your directing prospects. 

Rebbe

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #2 on: Jul 12, 2006, 01:40 pm »
say I decide to do some acting and I am in AEA as an SM

Keep in mind that AEA doesn’t require you to declare a major, so to speak. 
Joining is joining; you don’t have to check a box saying that you are either an SM, an Actor, or both.  The type of contract you work under makes that differentiation, and defines your responsibilities. 

AEA often uses the word “Actor” in the rulebooks to cover all union members, including SMs (like saying “men” instead of “people”).  But the point is that if you are in AEA, you can’t act or SM for a non-union show. 

Being in Equity would not prevent you from directing shows, whether they are AEA or not, as far as I know. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

JenniferEver

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #3 on: Jul 15, 2006, 10:03 am »
Thanks so much.

kjdiehl

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #4 on: Aug 04, 2006, 11:17 pm »
There are many actors who SM to get their Equity card because they find it an easier route for them than the acting one. 

Ugh. And how sad is this?! All this means is we get saddled with a bunch of pseudo-stage managers who don't even want the job taking valuable jobs away from the real stage managers. Plus, they're not as good stage managers, so it only perpetuates the belief in producers and others that SMs aren't that important, (especially in smaller companies where this is more common,) and therefore treat their SMs badly and don't respect them and their work. Am I the only one who wishes Equity had some sort of minimum qualifications that you had to meet in order to join, rather than just paying? Or at least if they DID make you "declare a major" this sort of lousy situation would be circumvented.

No offense to those of you who may have found your way into SMgt by way of starting as an actor. If you enjoy stage managing than that's great! But it stinks that there's others who don't even want to be a stage manager taking jobs away from the rest of us and lowering the level of work quality.
-Kris Diehl, AEA SM

"Somewhere in the city there's a stage manager waiting,
standing in the shadows with a clipboard in hand..."

Scott

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #5 on: Aug 05, 2006, 10:51 am »
Am I the only one who wishes Equity had some sort of minimum qualifications that you had to meet in order to join, rather than just paying?

No.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  It seems like at least once a year (most recently about two weeks ago) a committee chairperson or Equity rep. has to explain to me that it violates federal law to to require some sort of minimun standards to join a union.

Since that doesn't seem to be true for the Teacher's union or the Stagehands union, somebody will no doubt have to make this point to me again, since it doesn't seem to have sunk in.

And no-one has yet been able to give me an example where someone is able to join any other union as shop steward without minimun requirements, which I think is the nearest analogy to the stage manager situation.

Sigh.

loebtmc

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #6 on: Aug 05, 2006, 06:40 pm »
Mind you, it isn't that I disagree w you. But the reality is that there are quite a few unions offering "tests" to joing which really come down to their version of an old-boy's network. To  join IA in Phila, you only need to be a member of, or a dear friend, of a worker already in IA (until recently an entirely male enterprise). To join the musician's union (at least local 48) you have to play/sing a scale, but often the person judging is tone deaf. In fact, joining a union is usually a "time earned/apprentice" rather than test thing, so AEA is not unique.

Yes there are slaggart Shop Stewards as well, really there are, but part of the issue is understanding that SM is not an entry-level position. And that's something we have to change all the way across the board in every aspect of theater.

kjdiehl

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #7 on: Aug 05, 2006, 08:25 pm »
Good point about the IA "tests" and such. Then what about the potential of having Equity make you declare a major, as it were? Doesn't IA do something similar for Sound, LX, Wardrobe, Carps, etc? At least that would do a lot to prevent Actors from taking valuable SM slots. Current members could even be grandfathered in as both Actors and SMs, just to be fair, but all new members would have to choose a side. Mind you, the SMs could still become Actors, and vice versa, but it should require a separate (but reduced,) fee or something.
-Kris Diehl, AEA SM

"Somewhere in the city there's a stage manager waiting,
standing in the shadows with a clipboard in hand..."

SMJorge

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #8 on: Aug 25, 2006, 02:25 pm »
Disclaimer: I am not in any way associated with SSDC, so the information below could be wrong. If it is, someone please correct me.

In regards to the original point, it is my understanding that SSDC does not have "agreements" per se, the way that AEA does. That is if you had your card and you were working as an actor/SM you would have to work under an equity contract. As far as I understand SSDC does not work that way at all. Rather they have a template kind of contract you can use should you need it, but membership doesn't prevent you from working anywhere. Just my 2 cents...

stagemonkey

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Re: Changing professions
« Reply #9 on: Aug 27, 2006, 12:44 am »
I'm not too familiar with how the 2 unions work but I'm currently working on a show and as I sit through rehearsals I'm starting to entertain that thought of wanting to direct in the future as well, so the thread caught my attention.

I also always did find it weird how stage managers were in the actors union.  Does anyone know why they were linked in this way?

SMJorge

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Correction to my previous post
« Reply #10 on: Aug 31, 2006, 03:03 pm »
So I saw an SSDC contract yesterday and got a little lesson in SSDC. Basically once you join SSDC, you are supposed to tell the theatres you are working with and they need to give you an SDSC contract. By being on an SSDC contract the producer pays into your health and pension and I believe it also requires the SSDC logo be put on the program.

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