Sci-Fest LA, which has brought science fiction to the Los Angeles stage for the past three years, has been forced to skip 2017. Founding Producers Micheal Blaha, Lee Costello, and David Dean Bottrell announced on Facebook:
As some of you may know, in 2015, Actors Equity Association (the union for professional stage actors) took the unprecedented step of discontinuing the Los Angeles 99-Seat Theatre Plan — an agreement that had been in place for over 30 years. The plan had allowed LA-based Equity members to perform for free in small, 99-seat theatres in order to showcase their talents. Although the local Los Angeles membership of Equity waged a very strong campaign to reverse the decision, the national council of Equity overruled them. A lawsuit was subsequently brought against the union by a group of well-known actors including Emmy-winner, Ed Asner, but a few weeks ago, the suit was dismissed by federal judge in Los Angeles. As a result, the 99-Seat plan officially comes to an end as of today, December 15, 2016.
This means no professional stage actor in Los Angeles can appear in a 99-Seat theatre without being paid minimum wage for every hour of work, including rehearsals, tech rehearsals, and performances. Under the former 99-Seat plan, Sci-Fest LA (which uses 45-60 actors each year) paid each actor a small “per-show” stipend. The producers say they say they are unable to meet the new demands.
Consequently, Sci-Fest LA: The Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival will be going on hiatus for 2017.
There remains a possibility that Sci-Fest LA may co-produce a full-length Sci-Fi themed stage play in conjunction with a well-established, “membership” theatre company in LA that is currently exempt from the Equity salary requirements.
In the meantime, Sci-Fest LA will continue presenting its two sf writing contests, the Roswell Award and the Tomorrow Award.