Two days ago, I got this email:
I also got one of these – then a hard copy letter – in 2007, when I produced and acted in the east coast premiere of Jane Martin’s FLAGS Off-Broadway. (Weirdly, I haven’t received any in between, despite producing multiple shows I also acted in, which is the supposed trigger.)
In 2007, I was amused and horrified. Now, in the midst of the Waiver Wars, I’m just horrified.
Here’s my union saying, in effect, “Because you are an entrepreneurial sort, creating paying jobs for yourself and your colleagues, we no longer trust you to be an honest voice in our meetings.” Read the email again. It’s crazy: they claim that, because they value free speech, they should purposefully silence precisely those union members best positioned to talk about what it’s like to produce work, to employ each other, to transition from powerless interpretive artists to powerful generative ones. They believe that a union member – the moment he or she enacts the “sin” of producing work – becomes so much an enemy, instantly shares so little in common with other actors, that free and open dialogue is no longer possible in their presence.
My membership card will have asterisks on it, for crying out loud! I’m publicly shamed for taking my career into my own hands! (And, I repeat again: I’m not just taking my own career into my hands, I’ve generated paying jobs, with pension and health, for my fellow union members, including paying – in 99 seat LA theatre – above the required minimum in all of Firefly’s full LA productions.)
No wonder AEA can’t seem to wrap its mind around the entrepreneurial spirit that pervades LA theater.