The 29-Hour Reading (also known as the Stage Reading Guidelines) is an internal membership rule. It allows members of Equity to rehearse and/or perform without a contract (which we're typically not allowed to do) in certain situations where a reading is being rehearsed or presented.
Now, most of our internal membership rules that allow us to work without a contract (better known as "Codes") have fences built around them. Those limitations seek to ensure our members won't work without a contract with a producer who could reasonably afford one. The New York City Showcase Code, for instance, forbids participation without a contract in any project produced by a for-profit entity, or by a non-profit producer with a certain level of annual funding, or in a production with a budget that exceeds a certain threshold.
For some reason, however, the 29-Hour Reading includes no such fences.
For-profit producers use the 29-Hour Reading to perfect their materials before moving them onto a developmental contract. Non-profit producers with budgets of tens of millions of dollars use the 29-Hour Reading to hear plays that they might produce on contract at a later date. Many of these producers are members of multi-employer groups that have agreements with Equity to employ our members on contracts—contracts that include fair wages, health and pension contributions, and safe work conditions—and yet they're getting endless workweeks from our members without any pay or benefits because the 29-Hour Reading allows them to do it.
This makes no sense, and it has to change.
The 29-Hour Reading should not exist as a means to give our largest employers the ability to use Equity members without a contract. I'll continue the work that has already begun to end this ridiculous practice.