Thursday, January 26, 2006

rumors: useful or simply destructive?

There's been a good discussion of the purpose of this blog, the value (or worthlessness) of rumors and the future of Interplayers following a completely unrelated thread. (See the comments to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof cast list, below.)
I'm posting this entry to get subsequent related comments moved here.


At January 26, 2006 3:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's wrong with giving the other theatres in town the heads up that some previously committed and very talented people might be available?

At January 26, 2006 4:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the rumored expense of the longest standing professional company in town? Lots is wrong with that.

At January 26, 2006 4:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At January 26, 2006 5:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us support Interplayers and do all we can to keep it alive.

At January 26, 2006 5:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You see Bobo? That's what it leads to. Obviously, this Anonymous 4:41 has a problem with Interplayers and is working to be destructive. Has Interplayers not paid the talent? Is that not the definition of a professional company? And yet, this poster above questions the work? Enough said on this thread. Rumors are destructive. Absolutely Anonymous 5:12. We can start by waiting to see what the theater might ask of us. GOODBYE RUMOR THREAD.

At January 26, 2006 10:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yet again I say .....professional??


At January 26, 2006 11:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A theatre company that pays it's actors and designers is called a Professional theatre. A theatre that does not pay its talent is called a community theatre. As an actor who has been with Interplayers quite a few times, I can say that Interplayers is a community theatre. End of story.

At January 27, 2006 8:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a ton of people who have worked at Interplayers and have returned to the Interplayers stage who have always received their checks. This rings of another rumor. I always got my checks. If you worked there in plurality and didn't get paid, why did you go back and work there again? That doesn't sound too smart. I haven't heard one actor complain about not getting paid until your post. I don't buy it.

At January 27, 2006 11:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk to the casts of Dracula and Othello. I believe, they eventually got their money, but it was several weeks out. And some designers never got paid at all. Theatres sometimes go through hard times, but when you don't pay the talent, especially out of town talent who is paying rent in another city and maybe even supporting a family, and who already are getting very little pay for a lot of hard work, you've gone beyond community theatre. Then it is just parasitic.

At January 27, 2006 12:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the rumor changes in a diminishing fashion. So now, the talent has been paid and the rumor has been reduced to some designers on two shows from last season. Providing they haven't been paid. The actors I know in Othello and Dracula were indeed paid.

Now you tell me Bobo. What purpose does the perpetuating, encouraging and contributing to "Rumors" serve on this blog?

At January 27, 2006 3:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

rumors rumors. delicious! it's the spokane version of People magazine. c'mon kids, it's a community blog, not a journal piece. have a little levity.

At January 27, 2006 3:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is my response on how interPLAYERS can still proclaim itself as a professional theatre....

"This post has been removed by the blog administrator"

There Bobo....I saved you the time and trouble of removing it.

At January 27, 2006 4:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always been paid on time at Interplayers.

At January 27, 2006 8:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog fairs poorly for the Inlander. I believe that there is some connection to Inlander here. Is there not? Reviews find there way here -- must be some connection. And therefore, Bobo, should be more of a journalist on his comments and not feed or contribute to "off the record" garbage talk. The theater clowns that have been slighted (not cast or called upon) by one theater or another will always continue to "anonymously" vent their frustrations (true or false) anywhere that vidication might be served. Where else can one spout their courage like a road rage runt in a three thousand pound car.

At January 27, 2006 10:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous January 26, 2006 5:18 PM

This is not meant to offend and hypothetically speaking only -

If I were to run a theatre and gave all my actors, designers, etc. a nickel, by your standards then I would be a professional theatre? I do apologize if this sounds bad, but is that not what you are saying essentially?

I think what is meant is that for a theatre to consider itself "professional" that it needs to pay a living wage.

At January 28, 2006 2:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's not a theater in the country that pays a living wage to actors outside of Hollywood stars. On the best of Equity Contracts, Broadway will pay actors 1300.00 a week. In NY that's about equivalent to 275.00 in Spokane. Please tell me of a theater that pays a living wage in the country. Anyone attempting to make their living in the theater had better reduce, considerably, their standard of living. First and foremost, what actor works 2000 hours a year? (A real job). I'm not meaning to be offensive either, but the theater is not a place for an actor to make a living. They had better be doing a lot of SAG work in National Commercials, Television or Film as well.

The best paying theaters in town, pay up to 275.00 a week. The best actors in town might do three shows a year if they're in with the theater. In the best of circumstances, that is generously, 5600.00 a year. What you are asking simply isn't possible. And doing the show probably costs an actor about 300.00. That won't even pay the rent. Hence, professional means paid a wage. Whatever it is. A penny a week is not considered reasonable. There are professional company's in town that pay a fee per performance and nothing for rehearsal. I believe that amount is 35.00 a performance or 140.00 a week.

There really isn't a living in regional theater. Nor is there one on Broadway for actors without worldwide face recognition.

At January 28, 2006 3:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, Equity contracts are not based on region, but rather on possibly revenue genetrated by the theatre during the run of the show. (was that what you were saying? not sure) It's easy to figure out. How many seats, how many performances and how much you charge for tickets. That's what decides the type of Equity contract you must give your "Pro Actor". It's a set scale, very little room for negotiating. You MIGHT get away with a smaller tier contract IF you can show your theatre does NOT Fill every seat or sells MOST seats at a discount. But even then you are going to have to pay, Equity dues, Insurance and benefits (pension)to said Actor.

So the Actor may only get say $250 a week, but it costs the Theatre easily that and a half. And that's ONLY if the can somehow get artists in on a Special Appearance contract. Every other Equity contract outside of the first year of operation starts at around $300 to $500 a week plus per diem, plus pension, plus Insurance (that's standard Guest artist)

Is that enough to live on? I don't know--It would depend on what your lifestyle is.

I've never worked with or for Interplayers so I can't speak to how they operate, but in my experience with Equity contracts-Non LORT-you have to pay Equity BEFORE your actors take stage, then Equity pays the actor. So all your actors get paid.

I guess trying to make it as an Actor in this town (at least getting paid for it) is not an easy task, in the same respect--Running a Theatre is just as difficult.

As to the 'Rumor' issue***Rumors and misinformation will always exist, even in the face of the truth. Unfortunately, that's how life is. the best you can do is arm yourself with the Truth and try NOT to shrink when it is put to the test.

There will always be people who believe and say the worst about things they know nothing about. They'll state them as fact regardless of who they hurt. It's what they've heard, it's what's circulating, so what if it's not true. To stay popular with "The" crowd, you parrot the status quo.

Maybe this blog should become a message board, where you're required to register with valid ID so that we all know who's say what about whom.

But alas, that would require people to actually stand behind what they say and sadly........That happens far to seldom around here.

Anyone else intersted in removing the "veil" and posting by name?

Hmmmmmmm, something to think about.

And while I'm thinking........I hope I hit the lotto, Then we'll all get paid to act :)

Enjoy your evening, GZ

At January 28, 2006 9:37 AM , Blogger Janean said...

Comment 1: Thank you, GZ, for raising the point about all this "Anonymous" posting. Are people too frightened to use their real names, or at least create a specific nom de plume? Take a stand, take a name.

Comment 2: This is a BLOG. Anytime there's a "Leave your comment" aspect, that opens it up into a public conversation. A forum is not a journalistic report. Yes, it has the "Interplayers" name on it, as much as Bobo posts the Buzz that eventually goes in the Inlander and his reviews that go -- in a generally shorter version -- into the Inlander and on KPBX. But a blog is a new form of media. Whenever you open a conversation to the public, rumors and insults invariably show up.

Comment 3: Just because it's a rumor doesn't mean it's not true. And in this case, it's a sign for Interplayers to make a public statement. This is just a guess, but it sure sounds like the "Anonymous" who took offense in the "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" string is in in the know about Interplayers finances and is trying to do some 'damage control' in the good-ol' Bush administration way -- focus attention on the leak. At the very least, it seems to be a person with a skewed perspective of what 'community theatre' really means.

Comment 4: Spokane has incredible talent that has repeatedly stepped forward to perform -- for free. I thought the entire theater community knew that. "Anonymous-by-any-other-name" wrote:
"local talent that can be had for the right price ... well, at least the price that currently matches Interplayers' savings account ... nothing ... in whatever shows or format that local talent can be induced to perform."
That sounds like truth of the situation, not an attack. Big-name stars have stepped forward before to perform for free (or reduced rate) for a benefit, just as the Spokane Symphony in their efforts to renovate the Fox. That comment was a heads-up for anyone with a good show and no barn to hold it in to contact Interplayers.

Bottom line: A blog invites public discussion. I have a blog for musical theater... okay, for the KPBX musical theater radio show (blatant self-promotion -- click on my name or on "Wednesday Matinee" to get there). But this is the blog where people are posting, commenting on Spokane theater in general. It's a public conversation. Rumors will be started here, and probably confirmed or squashed here amongst the discussion. Adults can listen to competing ideas and make up their own minds. I believe that's what our founding fathers (and mothers) had in mind.

At January 28, 2006 11:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a bunch of vultures a theatre is in trouble and u want to pick at it until it is dead.

At January 28, 2006 4:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professional Theatre. What is it?

For the record, the actors and the director (me) were paid by InterPlayers on time for the recent reading stage production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I have always been paid, per contact, on time, for all the projects I worked on for InterPlayers in the past. Would I like the wage to be higher? Of course I would! I'm not alone there.

The distinction of “professional” is an adjective that anyone may adopt in any endeavor for promotion, as a distinction in the competitive commercial world. It serves as a collective identity in service or in a career. It is used to recognize consistency, quality, and reliability in performance. This is America. You can create your own identity.

Narrowly, ”professional” may indicate wage. Please see the excellent New York Times article “Theater; Stage Acting: It’s Nice Work if You Can Afford It” [January 15, 2006] for full commiseration with those who would seem so blessed and successful in other cities. Find out what actors are being paid on the Great White Way or off.

Actors by necessity and avocation are called to work on their art and technique whenever and wherever projects arise that appeal to them. You have to stay connected. Keep building that résumé. Wages have always been pitiful and the gift of our talent and time is probably the only form of philanthropy we can afford. Nor can we really influence season titles, director predilection, and artistic choice.

Professional actors are protected by the union Actors Equity Association (please read their handbook on obligations, contracts, pay scales etc.!) which guarantees a set of workplace rules and a minimum salary. Actors are encouraged to negotiate wages above that union level. Some equity actors can declare themselves at leisure or off-union for a period of time and work for less or nothing. Some professional actors with better financial means actually return their contractual minimum wage to the theatre. Some use other identities on occasion.

Cash flow is very tricky for small theatres that have small angels. Or no angels; I’ve tried it. Go ahead, you try it. Where are you now, Molly Sweeney?

As an actor who was professionally trained in theater at a University, I consider myself a professional whether I am paid or not paid. Professionalism may perhaps best be in the eye of the beholder as a quality of behavior in an individual, as a fundamental inner alignment. A degree or a famous coach isn’t a requirement to be a professional. Untalented actors still get cast from time to time. Attitude and reliability counts. You are what your work is. Reputation matters.

Go ahead, anonymouses (anonymice?), sign in under your own name. If we criticize the theatre critics (sorry, Mr. B, we do!) and each other’s work, we should be willing to identify ourselves on a blog. Oh, yes, I love the aspect of anonymity because it could be so naked…

Ordinary people would be so surprised to learn how slight the wages are. They could hardly guess at the politics and scrabble economics that make an art. People who work hard to maintain a theatre that isn’t funded by community or state grants and subsidies have the right to call themselves a professional theatre if they pay a wage. I’ve worked with many of the arts organizations of Spokane when I could. Theatre needs all the support it can get. Very likely the boards of all professional theatres are working to reorganize, invest and solicit new donors.

I’d love to have a corporate angel fund health insurance, transportation and an occasional pet project. But I know the difference between the theatre and the real world. Would more ordinary citizens donate to the arts if they knew how pitiful the wages were? Shouldn’t we actors concentrate on educating the public on the mechanics of arts as business? When the astigmatism about actors’ naughty lifestyles is corrected, actors will not be seen as prostitutes or emotional egotists. Wages will only rise when art is revealed behind the scenery.

At January 28, 2006 4:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julie Zimmer reported an anecdote from last Wednesday night's talkback after *The Dazzle* at ARt.
Someone alluded to $17K being a good year for an actor, and physician in the audience asked, out of genuine curiosity, why _anyone_ would choose such a life -- that is, why would anybody deliberately choose such a low-paying career?

At January 28, 2006 6:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my theatre professors said (and I think he was quoting but I don't know who), "Anyone who can get out of theatre, should."

At January 28, 2006 9:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a smart man!

At January 29, 2006 1:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would anyone choose that? Because occasionally one can catch one of Peter Brook's "golden fish".

Intellectually, economically, even socially, choosing the life and wage of a theatrician is at worst irrational, at best questionable. But it can be beautiful out there. "It's possible Roscommon was wrong."

At January 30, 2006 3:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anonymous Sept 28 @ 2:25 - There is not theatre in the country that pays a living wage? How about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival? Many of their actors have been with them a dozen seasons or more, e.g. Linda Alper-18; Richard Elmore-21; Robert Vicent Frank-18; Bill Geisslinger-15; Richard Howard-17;David Kelly-15; Sandy McCallum-16; Mark Murphy-23; Josiah Phillips-15; Demetra Pittman-19; Ray Porter-15; John Pribyl-18; Derrick Lee Weeden-15. That's thirteen actors with fifteen seasons or more at OSF, and there is another dozen or so with more than ten seasons. Does that sound like they are not being paid a living wage?

At January 30, 2006 5:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly it does. Do you know their wages? How many shows do each of them do a year? What is their rate of pay? Do they have side jobs? Are they trust fund babies? Is the spouse bringing in extra income?

New York doesn't pay a living wage, why would you think Ashland does?

At January 31, 2006 1:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what was meant by that “living wage” comment was that an actor should be paid a living wage while employed by a particular theatre for however many weeks, not the entire year or season (only the time they are employed by said theatre). If an actor is employed for five weeks at a theatre, then he should be compensated for five weeks of pay at a rate she/he can live on.

At January 31, 2006 3:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not believe Ann was talking on behalf of the theatre Bobo so it is still gossip.

At January 31, 2006 4:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous Jan 30 @ 5:17 p.m. (you must post on returning home from your "pays a living wage" employment.)
I think we are in to a game of semantics. Would you agree there is a difference between being paid a living wage for a gig in the theatre and making a living in the theatre? And how do you define "living wage?" Not all of us need six figures to be comfortable.
As to your questions:
1. No, I don't ever ask a friend what their take home pay is.
2. Of the 13 with over fifteen seasons, 12 were cast in two shows last year and 1 in only one -(Sandy McCullum is semi-retired, but is in great demand for particular roles.)
3. Same response as number 1.
4. Some yes - like directing at other locations during the off-season. All are professionals and so work within their profession as opportunities arise.
5. Don't know, but doubt it from reading their resumes.
6. Some are married to other actors, but having broken bread with several I would say "No" to this one.
As for your last comment, New York does pay a living wage to those who are lucky enough to land a job. Problem, as you well know, is that only one in a hundred "actors" in New York are working in the theatre at any given moment. Not everyone can be a Myron McCormick, or be lucky to get a part in "Cats".
You have me wondering. How much time did you spend in New York? How many productions were you cast in? Are you Equity? What is your standard of living?
Please, there is no need to respond to my questions. It is really none of my business, and I don't mean to debate, and I think I may understand where you are coming from. I was raised by an Equity actor and a Broadway costume designer. Both insisted that even thinking about making a living on Broadway as an actor was not realistic. (As a designer, now that's a different story.) So I never tried to become an actor. Perhaps you did, and I hope you did well while you were at it.

At January 31, 2006 6:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty much what I'm saying is that if you have aspirations to make a living in the theater as an actor or a director, lose them. If you want to make a living as an actor, go to Hollywood and take a shot at it. That's where actors can make a living doing national commercials, television and film (if they are lucky). Two percent of SAG makes 90% of the money. The remaining money is split amongst the ten percent. Yes, I'm Equity. If I tried to make a living on the card, I would have starved to death long ago. The theater must be about artistic passion. It's a simple formula. There's only so many seats at so much a seat for so many evenings. Providing one is operating at 100% sales. There are also only so many doners and sponsors. In theaters outside of New York, with maybe the exception of a couple in LA, financing of a show doesn't really happen. There just isn't any money in theater. Keeping the building alive, paying royalites, bringing in production values in sets, costumes, etc. Replacing blown theatrial lights (those puppies are pricy). Then if you look at the theater's here. One had to bring the building up to fire code in excess of quarter of a million in fundraising, another is dealing with a boiler where they are short 50G. For a professional company in Spokane to pay you any more than the two or three hundred a week... it's tough. Again, you may get 1300 a week in New York, but you sure are not living on Manhatton Island at that rate. I'm simply saying there is no living in the theater as an actor. I don't even believe as a designer. That too is freelance. The only people making a living are on the payroll and some of them don't even make a living. One could say that a Spokane living may be decent at a minimum of 35K. Not with a family of course. Where is that money in the theater? You can't quit your day job.

At January 31, 2006 6:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops. Sorry. The remaining 98% of SAG splits 10% of the money. What's that say about the healthcare and pension plans paid for when you work?

At January 31, 2006 9:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some people do make a living in regional theatre. Oddly enough, the ones I’ve had the opportunity to talk to have been non-Equity. Tim Kniffin, who did several shows at Interplayers, told me a few years ago that he hadn’t had a “day job” in over five years, he’d just been acting for a living. Unlike many actors, he was willing to travel and go from city to city to work, but kept an apartment in Seattle.
I also stayed for the talkback at “the Dazzle” last week and Tralan Dolar talked about how he makes a living as an actor, director and choreographer. He has eleven stage projects booked for this year, and is currently lining up more. And he lives in Manhatten, in Greenwich Village. So it is possible to make it work, it’s just not easy.

At February 01, 2006 12:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a link to check rents in Greenwich Village. Roommates? I can't imagine why anyone would keep an apartment in Greenwich Village (Cheapest Studio) 1650.00/Mo, and spend 5 or more weeks here at 275.00 a week. The numbers just don't work.

At February 03, 2006 11:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just re-read mine of Jan.31. Should have pointed out that most of the multi-season OSF actors have become members of the local community. They appreciate the opportunity to raise a family in one location while making a living in the profession they love. They may take advantage of the few weeks they have between the final curtain of one season and the start of rehersals for the next to do a little outside work, but OSF is still the "day job" that they don't have to quit.


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