Changes are in store for the Actors Equity waiver setup in Los Angeles. The union code under which most smaller theatres operate will be altered on Jan. 15, 2000. The changes which will go into effect are the result of nearly three years of talks between the union and a committee of theatre leaders, followed by a vote of the union's local board and a presentation to the union at large.
The present Equity Waiver plan, in effect since 1998, has required that performers be paid between $5 and $14 a performance depending on box-office grosses. Productions that extend beyond 80 performances are required to move to an Equity contract, which means considerably more compensation for the actors.
Under the new plan, the performance cut-off will remain at 80, but two different payment structures will be in effect. Theatre size, not weekly gross, will be the determining factor until a production has reached at least 12 weeks.
Theatres with capacities between 60 and 99 seats will be required to pay, at a minimum, $7 per performance in the first four weeks of a show; $10 per performance in weeks nine through 12, and either $15 per performance or each actor's equal share of 15% of the gross, whichever is higher, after week 12.
For theatres with fewer than 60 seats, most of the scale is lower. Other perks are built into the new plan, though, which include free parking for the actors and formal arrangements regarding the use of understudies. There will also be a special plan for membership companies, in which the actors serve both as producers and actors. -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent