Actors Union Rules Change Forces Sci-Fest LA Into Hiatus

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.

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2 thoughts on “Actors Union Rules Change Forces Sci-Fest LA Into Hiatus

  1. Under this new rule even Ray Bradbury would have had to stop producing/funding his plays. His Pandemonium theater group did the plays out of the love of their craft and because it was Ray.

  2. One is under no compulsion to hire equity actors. The number of wannabes is enormous and many of them would be happy to have a lash at performing simply for the stipend. Not being in Equity, they are only going to be blackballed and demonized and defenestrated for ignoring the socialist workers movement for free expression of art at maximum public expense. What could possibly go wrong?

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