Stage managers keep us on task. They keep us on schedule. They keep us safe.
Yet despite the incredible importance of the role our stage managers play in our rehearsals and performances, they are too often undervalued within their own union. One of the ways that manifests itself is in our willingness to forgo required Equity contracts for Assistant Stage Managers in our agreements with employers.
As an actor, I have found myself in two different situations when working without an Equity ASM: either the lack of an Equity ASM has made me less safe (ask me about the time I was electrocuted during tech), or the lack of a contract has meant that a highly-capable and qualified professional hasn't been afforded fair wages and working conditions. Neither is acceptable to me.
As the 1st Vice Chair of the Eastern Developing Theater Committee, I'm as aware as anyone of the need to allow our newest and smallest employers to grow into appropriate contracts. That said, I believe that a required Equity ASM needs to be a baseline requirement of moving onto a negotiated Equity agreement. If you want to work with our members, you need to work with ALL of our members.
As a committee member, a Councilor, and hopefully as a Vice President, I will always insist that any agreement negotiated by an employer with Actors' Equity include a required Equity ASM. We need to demonstrate from the outset that having an ASM on contract is a priority for our union.
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