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Louis Broome

Playwrights absolutely need actors, no question. But I think actors need playwrights - the living, breathing kind - just as much. Somewhere over the rainbow is a popular, profitable and vital theater built on a solid foundation of NEW stories. The canon-based, museum theater we now fail to enjoy doesn't appear to be doing much for actors, playwrights or anyone.

Scot Augustson

Paul, who are these actors you speak of? They've a whiff of straw about them.
You and me must be hanging with a completely different crowd. Most of the actors I know are very pro-new work. They enjoy being part of the whole process.
Are there some actors who don't honor commitments? Sure. Are there cut-throat careerist actors who'll step on your solar plexus to get ahead. Sure. But by & large most see the value of new work are are thrilled to take a whirl on the casting coach...I mean are thrill to help create new plays.

Paul Mullin


How dare you accuse me of creating straw players? You sir, are a communist and a fascist, and so is that goon of yours you loosed on me the other night.

Maybe it's somewhere in the middle, Scot. You do tend to run with a game crowd of actors, but I know plenty that would would walk over their own mothers away from a new play for an opportunity to swash a buckle in some Big House Alexander Dumbass adaptation.

It's back to the Equity thing. If they really wanted to do new work, they'd demand some sort of 99-seat waiver like in NYC or LA. 'Cuz Chris Comte would have us believe that such a change is simply theirs for the collective asking. And Chris would never prevaricate with us, would he?

Rik Deskin

Okay, with all due respect. There is no need to disparage Chris Comte. This guy is dedicated to working on behalf of actors to help making a living a little easier and he is dedicated to his volunteerism on behalf of Annex Theatre.

Now to the Equity thing. We in Seattle have the Equity Member Project code for up to 99-seat theater that is in leiu of the Showcase Code. We have a Liaison Committee populated by local AEA actors including myself and Chris that meet frequently to help make things easier in regards to AEA, actors and local orgs. We are very supportive and encouraging of new works. What we are not supportive of is irresponsibility on the part of producers. We want to help the Seattle Theatre Creative Industry really become that. We want Seattle to be that place (and it really is, we just all need to believe it) where theatre is created, has a valid voice and excellence like our brothers and sisters in NY & Chicago and other theatre hubs.

Paul, Scott and all. As an actor, I am personally dedicated to seeing new works brought to the stage. As hard as that mission is as it gets virtually no support from local agencies and no advocacy from our "critics."

I have helped 52 new plays of various lengths by local and national playwrights to be seen, heard, performed and/or produced. 31 (and soon to be 32 with local playwright Kirsten Fatland's "Black Men Smile At Me" coming up in May) have been with Eclectic Theater Company, the little company I founded in 2000, dedicated to producing and presenting original, contemporary and classic works.

Most of my best experiences have been working with living, breathing playwrights. I love being part of that process. And I also love exploring the world of theatre and the history of theatre by performing in the classics as well as the already published plays. It helps to inform me as an actor and as a theatre artist.

Anyway, I do agree that actors should come to the Outrageous Fortune discussion. Will they? Some will. I will. But there are those that will not attend out of apathy, selfishness and a feeling of being alienated from their art. I hope they can overcome themselves and attend. That goes for all theatre artists that are on the fence. We need your collective voice.

Paul Mullin


You're right. Chris and I banter back and forth in a way that people outside the fray might mistake as nasty. Chris deserves a lot of respect for his efforts in this community. I do believe he, and apparently you, are on the wrong side of the Equity Showcase issue here in Seattle, however.

I know the Member Project Contract and its terms, since I used it on my horror late night series PSYCHOPOMP PRESENTS... back in 2004. (Chris was very encouraging and easy to work with arranging this.) But unless it has changed significantly since then, it is disingenuous for you and Chris to characterize it as anything even CLOSE to comparable to the 99-Seat wavier and showcase codes that LA and NYC members enjoy operating under.

I could get into all the inside baseball nitty gritties of why this is so but the most glaring point of difference is that a continuously operating theatre company such as Annex cannot use it. So if you want to do a Member Project you essentially have to form a new theatre company each time you do. This has the effect of making it practically a dead issue in Seattle. Kind of like giving a toothless baby a nice fresh apple.

Rebecca Olson

Lest this become another bitch session about AEA, I’d like to bring things back around to a topic that is far more interesting to me: myself. As an actor, I wholeheartedly disagree with you that actors don’t need playwrights. Yes, I could continue to perform Shakespearian monologues alone in my condo until the end of time, but if the theater is going to survive and flourish – if I want to be an actor in theater performing on stage for an audience in 20 or 30 years, then I’m going to need playwrights writing new stories. Period. Whether audiences realize it or not (and I think a lot of them do realize it but we don’t give them credit for it), they want to see new plays – just like they want to see new movies, and new TV shows, etc. I don’t mean we should stop doing plays that have already been written and which we think are really good and would like to see again; I mean (and I know I’m not alone here) that we also need to continue to infuse theater with new, fresh, raw stories. What would the visual art world be right now, if 100 years ago they had said “Well, Impressionism is pretty much it. I think we’re done here. Let’s just keep re-painting all the classics now, and not bother to paint anything new.” Visual art would be nothing more than an antiquity. Instead, visual art draws on it’s history, but continues to be a dynamic, living, force that shapes everything from marketing to modern fashion to architecture. So my feeling is, unless I want to move to Los Angeles and learn how to become a reality TV star (which I’d rather not), then I need playwrights to help me keep theater relevant so that people want to see it. It’s not *all* up to playwrights, obviously – but we certainly can’t do it without you. And, scene.

Rik Deskin


You are correct about the differences between the EMPC and the Showcase codes. The latter favors producers and companies whereas the former favors the actors. I know the discussion has been brought up between the AEA Liaison Committee and Staff, and what we've heard in the past is that the Showcase codes have undermined AEA wages in the LA & NY Markets to the detriment of members there. I'm looking for an official answer from the Committee on this and will get back to you.

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