Onstage > The Hardline

AEA "guidelines"


I recently had a producer tell me that the equity rulebook are guidelines to follow as closely as possible but to be flexible if there are times when we really cant follow a rule. The conversation was related to scheduling where we are having a hard time working with actor/director/space availability while adhering to some of the AEA rules. I have heard from other SMs and have always worked off the idea that the AEA rules are rules that cannot be broken without actor approval in writing. I am not an AEA stage manager but often work at AEA companies.

Where on the guidelines vs. hard rules debate do you land?
If you do have to break an equity rule how do you go about that?

It's unclear from the post....are you ACTUALLY working on an Equity contract, or just a company that likes to use it for reference? That makes a big difference. If it's an Equity contract, a call to the business rep may be in order. If it's guidelines only (like, I know many college campuses that try to abide by them anyway), that's a little more flexible. Also, an actor (or stage manager) cannot just vote away/sign away any rights, no matter the contract. And any vote that is officially allowed needs to include the stage manager too. (They often think actors only can decide that.)

Now, if we go over a break by 1 or 2 minutes, that's something different, and then I might make it a 12 or 15 minute break after. But outright scheduling without proper AEA rulings (no more than 5 hours in a row, correct span of day, etc), that is not something to allow on a true Equity contract.

To clarify:

I am not an AEA stage manager but I am working under an equity contract at an equity company. We have one actor who is equity.

Well then you get into that fun world where one person needs to follow the rules, but the others could break/bend them. I did a My Fair Lady where the only Equity were myself as SM and the Henry Higgins. When we held dance rehearsals, I became the only Equity person in the room. I did bend slightly, going beyond our 10pm cut off while they finished running a song with 90 seconds left or whatever. The artistic director who was observing raised his eyebrow at me, and I said I knew that it would be better for everyone if I let it go. But that was only affecting me (and frankly my rapport with the director at the time). You could also be scheduling incorrect Equity breaks for the others in the cast, but making sure that one person gets theirs, if that's what the producer means. But really, the Equity person's schedule should be done by the book. Have I had other producers try to stretch the rules? Sure. They shouldn't, though.


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