An Open Letter to Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle
An Open Letter to Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle barryheins
April 21, 2017
RE: Your video
I just watched your video, and I’m a bit dumbfounded. “Now it’s time to turn feedback into action” you say? Three weeks ago Council told membership that it would not listen to appeals regarding membership company status, even though the resolution demanding that PASSED UNANIMOUSLY at the last Western Region general membership meeting, WITHOUT A SINGLE ABSTENTION. Not exactly what I would call “turning feedback into action,” Kate.
The reasons that Council gave for denying the right to appeal:
1) The criteria and methodology used to make membership company determinations was sound (Interact Theatre Company would beg to differ).
2) Theater companies had ample time to present additional materials for review (but Equity never actually gave a deadline, plus a decision on Asner v. AEA was pending, of course).
Council said it considered those reasons to be “a de-facto appeals process.” But here’s how the dictionary defines “appeal (law or rule)”: “To apply to a higher court for a reversal of the decision of a lower court.” So, the same body looking at the same evidence doesn’t meet the definition, and it’s by no means what membership demanded in its resolution (did I say unanimously?).
It appears that Council decided it didn’t want to open a big can of worms, didn’t want to admit that mistakes were made, and chose instead to simply support staff’s decisions. Easier. A lot easier. I get it. But Council missed a golden opportunity to improve relations, correct some grievous errors, and show Los Angeles actors that it’s trying hard to be open-minded. Instead, it threw more salt into a very deep wound.
Kate, I want to take you at your word in this video, I really do. I hope this means Equity is turning over a new leaf. We will all have another opportunity to see if you truly mean what you say when AEA members of Interact Theatre Company will present another resolution at the general membership meeting. No actor in this town who knows of Interact Theatre Company can understand how it could possibly have been denied membership company status. So Equity members in Los Angeles will have a chance to see exactly how “aggressive, inclusive, and responsive” Council will actually be in addressing that particular matter in the days ahead. 48 Equity members and our 27-year-old membership theatre company have been unfairly impacted, and its time to admit that a mistake was made and restore some confidence that Council is not just going to do what’s easy and convenient, it’s going to go out of its way to do the right thing.
Since this is an open letter, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Council members who voted in favor of hearing appeals:
Maureen Moore (Eastern Principal), Kristine Nevins (Eastern Principal), Camille Saviola (Eastern Principal), Sid Solomon (Eastern Principal), Scott Watanabe (Eastern Chorus), Kelley Faulkner (Central Principal), Richard Shavzin (Central Principal), Pat Loeb (Western Stage Manager), Jeff Marlowe (Western Principal), Deborah Sharpe-Taylor (Western Principal), and Vernon Willet (Western Principal).
President, Interact Theatre Company