Equity’s Showcase Code Sucks? Come to a Party — and Join LIT


If you haven’t joined the League of Independent Theater — you’re thinking about it, you’ve heard they’re doing stuff but you’re not totally sure what, you’ve hearing rumors, you’re living under a rock — enough already.


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If you’re a New York City theater maker, a member of the developmental incubator called Off-Off-Broadway, if you think Actors’ Equity’s Showcase Code is completely ridiculous, you should come to a party.

It’s a holiday party being thrown by LIT.

I sit on the LIT board, and yes, we know the Showcase Code conversation has gone on forever, seemingly getting nowhere.

I’m here to tell you that if you come to the LIT holiday party, you’ll find LIT is about to endorse something significant regarding the Showcase Code that is potentially game-changing.

But you have to attend to learn more about it.

The holiday party is set for Wed., Dec. 15, 6pm at Jimmy’s No. 43.

There will be some LIT business to get through — elections for an available board seat — but, equally important, there are plans to talk about LIT’s plans.

Here is some boilerplate currently being circulated.

I will be there.

The League of Independent Theater, an advocacy organization representing many Off Off Broadway Companies and artists is seeking to begin a dialogue with Actor’s Equity to develop a new code for Off-Off Broadway to replace the outmoded and regressive Showcase Code. To date Actor’s Equity has refused all of our attempts at communication.

Actors’ Equity members are part of the bedrock of the Independent Theatre community. There is virtually no producer, no playwright, no director, no designer, no dramaturg — and certainly no stage manager — who has not enjoyed lasting, productive professional relationships with union actors. For over 50 years tens of thousands of union actors have identified in the Independent/Off-Off-Broadway community the chance to realize their own artistic vision, often crossing disciplines to become producers, playwrights, directors, etc., themselves.

A majority of actors, nonunion and union alike — plus producers, playwrights, directors and virtually every local arts-service and advocacy organization — have publicly pointed to Actors’ Equity’s current Showcase Code as a punishing, outmoded, deeply regressive obstacle to the ever-evolving way Independent Theatre is created and delivered in New York City. The League of Independent Theatre was formed, in part, to join in the years-long, monumental effort to persuade Actors’ Equity to revise or fundamentally redefine the Showcase Code to accurately reflect the industry’s growth, dynamism and vitality-and the needs of actors to benefit both financially and professionally.

Despite recent marginal adjustments, we find the current Showcase Code unacceptable.

Why should talented, experienced actors of all levels, ages and artistic interests still work under a “Showcase” Code that fails to consider the economic realities of the sector and the time needed to create new work?

Unfortunately, Actors’ Equity remains hostile to revising the Showcase Code, despite the pleas of its members. We stand with those actors who believe the situation has reached an impasse. We cannot conceive continuing with the current Code. We also cannot conceive continuing without the immense talent found in union actors and stage managers.

Therefore, we again call upon Actors’ Equity to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the League and other organizations that represent Independent/Off Off Broadway to develop new tiers to the Showcase Code that will allow the sector to grow and thrive.

The League of Independent Theatre will also work directly with Actors’ Equity members to encourage them to lobby their own union for a Code that represents their work and their professional aspirations. New York actors deserve nothing less.

The League will be discussing the issue at length at its holiday party in December. We encourage everyone in the Independent Theater Community to attend and make your voices heard. We must work together and take risks to effect the change that is needed.