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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Friday, August 04, 2006

American Girl - Equity Actors

Well, since we discuss the Actor's Equity Union, here's an example of actors who work in a very commerical atmosphere who are in the midst of an attempt to organize.

Read about it in the NY Times, here.

Thanks to Matt Trumbull for bringing this to my attention.

My thoughts...

First, this illuminates that Professional Acting is a very broad church. These are performers who use their talents to make a great deal of money for a major corporation. If they shouldn't be unionized, who should? Unions were created precisely for protecting the interests of these performers. (Another question might be, is it doing so here?)

This also illustrates just how far away Equity's interests lie from downtown theater and indie theater. These performers perform advertising.

I'd love to hear some perspectives on this.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this. I'm having a hard time taking a stance on this, because part of me wonders exactly what a "show" consists of ?
I mean are they acting or are they automatons. Also - I don't see equity getting involved, because I don't think equity has the power to take on these guys. I also would think that this corp. ain't gonna worry too much. 1) it's Mattel Toys.
2) A 2004 financial stement says: 4th quarter earnings for American Girls was 214.4 million dollars.

http://www.shareholder.com/mattel/news/20050131-154093.cfm


http://www.americangirl.com/corp/media/fastfacts.html

Buddha Cowboy - NYC

david d. said...

I have to take issue with one of your statements, though I may be misunderstanding your position, and if so, please expand upon it:

"This also illustrates just how far away Equity's interests lie from downtown theater and indie theater. These performers perform advertising."

The purpose and protection of Actors Equity is indeed going to be entirely about the rights and compensation of the worker rather than having any interest towards what the content of the work is (the same could probably be said about any other labor union). That is to say the issues concerning the union will be about the fair compensation and safe and sanitary working conditions of the workplace, rather then the artistic merit of the content being performed.

Would you say that the fact that SAG has a commercials contract, to oversee the members literally performing in advertising means that SAG must therefore be seen as having no interest in indie film?
Should a labor union be making decisions about what work does or doesn't have artistic merit?

I know what you are saying and, sure, while I haven't seen them I can imagine that what is being performed at the American Girl stores are a distant planet from your plays. But the issues at hand in this story are labor issues, not artistic ones. Equity is not in the business of deciding that the content of show A is more or less imporant than show B, there are just producers and workers.

Freeman said...

Fair enough, Dave. Truthfully, Equity isn't obligated to pay attention to the artistic quality of productions. My comment is more directed at the continuing discussion about Equity's obligations to the Showcase Code and downtown theaters, which, in my opinion, it's been damaging to.