Lesson in Equity

I am so busy with auditions. Wow. And not being Equity is killer sometimes.

What is Equity?

Who said that?! ......uh, well, Equity is the union that Broadway actors and many large stage theaters across the country are a part of.

Why would you want to be Equity?

......is this some sort of interview? Basically, from someone on the outside (called a non-Equity person......or scum), the advantage to being Equity regarding auditions is priority. At an Equity audition, you get first priority to get seen. Second priority is Equity Membership Candidates, or EMC. Finally, there's me, non-eq. So how this plays out is that if 100 Equity people and 50 EMCs and 100 non-union people were to show up at an audition on 9:30a, let's say, the Equity people would sign up on a list to get seen. If that list fills up, they go to the Equity alternate list. Then, the EMCs would sign up on another sheet, I believe. Then, the dirty dirty non-eqs sign up on a third sheet (if it is available). Sooooo, as a non-eq person, if all of the Equity people are seen, there are no Equity alternates present, no EMCs present, AND the theater is willing to see non-Equity, only then will you possibly be seen, time permitting.

Beyond auditioning, a big plus of Equity is pay. You get typically get compensated VERY well in Equity productions. This is not always the case with non-Equity.

Oh, are there negatives?

No. Equity is perfect. There are no flaws. Besides that you can never do another non-equity production ever again without approval from Equity. Oh. That sucks.

So then how do you become Equity?

The main avenue is to be cast in an Equity production. Oh yeah. Catch 22. It is VERY difficult to be seen at an Equity audition unless you are Equity, yet a great way is to be cast in an Equity production. It is a lot easier to do in regional theaters at regional auditions. In New York and LA, you are up against many talented people.

Another way is to work at an Equity aligned theater that allows you to get weeks toward membership. These people become the Equity Membership Candidates (EMCs). If you acrew 50 weeks at an eligible Equity theater (any theater over ANY length of time), then you are offered to join Equity at that time (and I believe are obligated if you work any longer).

Finally, if you are in good standing of a sister organization (such as with AFTRA or SAG) for over a year, you can join Equity that way.

Is there a number to call or do you get notified when an audition is not seeing non-Equity ahead of time?

Rarely. The basic method of most non-Equity auditioneers is to physically travel to Equity auditions and sign up. You then wait for the monitors to notify you whether they are even seeing non-Equity. You potentially can wait ALL DAY to be seen (and I've seen it done many times), only to discover that they won't be able to see you after all. This happens because Equity alternates can arrive at any time. And, even if you've been waiting all day, Equity alternates take priority over you, even if they walked in 5 minutes ago. If there's room, Equity gets seen first.

How often do you get seen at Equity auditions?

Well, I haven't been doing this for too long, but so far, I'd gather that I'm getting seen at probably 20% to 25% of Equity auditions I show up to. Additionally, I'm usually aware pretty soon after arriving whether they are seeing them (as I tend to show up late--I don't see the point in waiting). You are much more likely to get seen at regional and obscure productions then you are to be seen at a Broadway production.

Why do they do calls for shows that are currently on Broadway? Aren't they already cast? Should I even go?

No, seriously, who are you? Are you in my head or what? Equity requires every Broadway production (and maybe any ongoing show) to hold at least annual auditions, if not more, for any production. If a casting crew were to find someone better, they would absolutely bring this to the show's attention. Broadway, while magical, is still a business.

That said, it is unlikely to get cast in these on a show that you know the rumor mill behind the scenes. If no one is leaving, it is unlikely you'll be cast. But who are you to know?? It is worth a try, isn't it? Also, this is a way to get seen by casting directors. You may not be right for this part, but I personally heard twice (once being myself!) that casting directors tell people auditioning to sometimes come back for another show they are casting in a few months because I, I mean, they would be good for this or that show.

What I learned: I love helping people. Also, these questions are questions I wish I had gotten answered long ago. It was so hard to find the answer to these questions. If there are any more, puhhLEIGHze let me know.