Get informed! Explore this site and get an understanding of how Equity’s membership rules work for you.
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There has been a lot of discussion and debate surrounding Equity’s new rules and contracts for our members working in Los Angeles County. It’s simple: the union’s new membership rules were implemented to guarantee that Equity members in Los Angeles have a reasonable number of chances to get paid at least the minimum wage for their stage work.
Actors’ Equity was founded on the principle that all actors deserve fair pay. Those who’ve joined this union have not only benefited from safe and sanitary protections, but have also been promised that the union will fight to ensure them a fair and living wage. Across the country, our staff works on your behalf to ensure that you have been compensated for your time and talent.
With the 2015 implementation of a set of new policies in Los Angeles County, actors and stage managers will no longer have to rely on volunteerism in order to perform on stage. The new 99-Seat Theatre Agreement, now available in Los Angeles—and available to be bargained with LA small theaters—will pay at least minimum wage to members. But Equity understands that the whole ecosystem can’t just change overnight, and that our members value the ability to get on stage and maintain their artistic chops between contracts. That’s why the National Council not only created a Transitional Code to allow for adjustment and fundraising, but also made sure to complement the new agreement with carve-outs that allow members to perform, under specific circumstances, without benefit of contract. These new policies (which are officially called “internal membership rules”) provide opportunities for members to self-produce, participate in shows under the LA Showcase Code and work with membership companies without union restrictions.
Use this website as a resource. Because there has been so much dialogue about the state of Los Angeles theatre and Equity’s new rules and contracts, take the time to read about these new opportunities for you in Los Angeles.
For decades, members working on and behind stages in Los Angeles County have been volunteering their time and talent for as little as $7 per day during performances, and no pay for rehearsals. Because the theatre community in Los Angeles is quite diverse, Equity’s National Council introduced a new template contract—the 99-Seat Theatre Agreement—as well as retaining the HAT (Hollywood Area Theatre) Contract and allowing the SPT (Small Professional Theatre) Contract for the first time ever in Los Angeles. But since not every theatre has the ability to grow to contract, and because our members have clearly stated that they don’t need Equity oversight when they are producing their own work, members may continue performing with membership companies (which make up about 1/3 of the Los Angeles landscape) and self-producing (following the introduction of the LA Self-Produced Project Code) without a contract. Finally, members may participate in productions in spaces with fewer than 50 seats per the LA Showcase Code, which is nearly identical to Showcase Codes in other cities.
This site was created specifically so that Equity members can get a complete understanding about the new contracts and codes now available in Los Angeles County. With this site:
- You can get the facts
- You can learn more about the new internal membership rules* and negotiated agreements in Los Angeles County
- You can learn what these codes and agreements mean for actors and stage managers working in theatre in LA
*Internal union membership rules are rules that members agree to abide by when they join a union. One of those rules is typically the prohibition against working without a contract in the union’s jurisdiction. For Equity members, the internal membership rules include Codes, Waivers and Guidelines – all of which create limited exceptions to the rule against “working off the card.”
Los Angeles Theatres by Category:
Click to expand any of the following lists:
Here is a list of the 61 Membership Companies Equity has approved in LA County:
24th Street Theatre
68 Cent Crew Theatre Company/Theatre 68
Actors’ Gang, The
Alliance Repertory Company
Antaeus Company, The
Brimmer Street Theatre Company
Burglars of Hamm
Buzzworks Theater Company
Circle X Theatre Co.
Classical Theatre Lab
Coeurage Theatre Company
Color and Light Theatre Ensemble
Company of Angels
Critical Mass Performance Group
Downtown Repertory Theater Company
Echo Theater Company
Eclectic Company Theatre
Elephant Theatre Company
Ensemble Studio Theatre – Los Angeles
Ghost Road Company
Little Fish Theatre
Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre
Los Angeles New Court Theatre
Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble
Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble
Neo Ensemble Theatre
New American Theatre
Next Arena, The
NoHo Arts Center Ensemble
Open Fist Theatre Company
Orgasmico Theatre Company
Other Side of The Hill Prods. Inc., The (DBA The Road Theatre Company)
Pacific Resident Theater
Porters of Hellsgate
Production Company, The
Rogue Artists Ensemble
Rogue Machine Theatre*
Sacred Fools Theater Company*
Santa Monica Repertory Theater
SkyPilot Theatre Company
Son of Semele
Southern California Shakespeare Festival
Theatre of NOTE
Unknown Artists, The
Here is a list of companies that have, in the past, produced in theaters of 50 seats or fewer, and thus can most likely use the new LA Showcase Code:
A Theatre Connection
Artists At Play
Candace Kelley, Audrey Kelley & Gilda Rogers
Children’s Theatre Group of Southern California
Drive Theatre Company
Fresh Produce’d Los Angeles
Georgetown Productions LLC
Lange Productions/Rogue Machine
Leap in the Dark Productions
Magnum Opus Players
Mine is Yours Theatre Company
Spirited Hands Productions, LLC
Stone Soup Productions
Teatro De La O
The Others Theater @ Sons of Semele CC Festival
The Others Theater Company
Theatre Theater/Sparkling City Entertainment
Vagabond (or Vagabond Players)
VS. Theatre Company
Young Actors Ensemble
Finally, this list comprises the 26 seasonal or regularly-producing entities that used the old 99-Seat Theatre Plan and are now outside the purview of any membership rule/waiver/code:
Academy for New Musical Theatre
Blank Theatre Company, The
Casa 0101 Theater
Crown City Theatre
DOMA Theatre Company (n/a; moving to a larger space)
Good People Theater Company
Greenway Arts Alliance Inc
Harold Clurman Lab Theater @ The Stella Adler Studio
Independent Shakespeare Company (has already moved to contract )
Latino Theatre Company
Long Beach Playhouse (in 2015, immediately announced plans to go non-union)
Jewish Women’s Theatre (has already moved to contract )
Malibu Playhouse/Malibu Stage Company
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Repertory East Playhouse
Santa Monica Playhouse
Sierra Madre Playhouse
Skylight Theatre Company*
The Theatre @ Boston Court
Victory Theatre Bare Bones*
*Principals of these organizations are also plaintiffs in the Asner v Equity litigation
Telling Our Story
We provide crucial benefits, including work rules, auditions, access to health insurance, pension and 401K plans, agent regulations, and more.
We’re proud to represent more than 50,000 stage actors and stage managers.
Throughout our history we have proudly represented our members by advocating for arts funding, standing up against discrimination and remaining a leader in the theatre industry.
A History of Equity
Call the era B.E. (Before Equity): a time so far removed from present experience that it takes on the feeling of a folk tale. Rehearsals without pay, acting companies stranded on the road, performers paying for their own costumes. At one point, the then-president of the Theatrical Protective Union, which represented stagehands, told reporters that upon entering a theatre, he often did not know which sub-cellar was for the actors and which was for the coal.
Actors’ Equity Association was founded by 112 actors at the Pabst Grand Circle Hotel in New York City. The first president of the union was comedian Francis Wilson. Actor, producer and director George M. Cohan said, “I will drive an elevator for a living before I will do business with any actors’ union.” (Later, a sign appeared in Times Square reading, “Elevator Operator Wanted. George M. Cohan Need Not Apply.” )
“Go West, Young Man!” Equity heeded the call: After several trips to the City of Angels, the Actors’ Equity Association Los Angeles office officially opened in 1921.
A group of Equity members, including three Councillors (Berton Churchill, Grant Mitchell, Ralph Morgan) and a West Coast rep (Kenneth Thomson), created the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. The following year, Equity officially granted to SAG jurisdiction over film work.
1942 saw the creation of Equity Library Theatre, a decades-long initiative for which Equity functioned as producer for showcase-style productions. In addition to “providing idle performers with work,” ELT shows “were designed to show off the talents of union members in parts they might never land in conventional productions. One reporter called it a kind of ‘Stillman’s Gym for stage folk,’ where underused artistic muscles were developed.” After 1950, a pay scale was instituted for the actors.
When the Red Scare took hold of the entertainment industry, Equity was the only performing arts union to stand up against blacklisting. In fact, Equity took the matter so seriously that it introduced anti-blacklisting clauses into its contracts and, in 1950, passed a series of anti-blacklisting resolutions.
In 1960, Equity members went on strike for the first time in forty years, shutting down Broadway for ten days and resulting in the creation of the first employer-financed pension plan for an entertainment union. In fact, it was because of the members’ determination and fight that other theatrical unions were also able to achieve pensions.
Equity continued its crusade for social justice, speaking up for equal rights and equal pay. Actors’ Equity also appeared before Congressional committees nine times in support of government aid for the arts; the result was the federal agency that became the National Endowment for the Arts.
A decade of diversification, the 1970s saw the introduction of the off-off-Broadway Contract, the Showcase Code, the Mini Contract, the COLT (later CAT) Contract, the Dinner Theatre Contract, and the Liaison system. Equity lobbied hard–and successfully–for the establishment of Manhattan Plaza, a government-subsidized housing complex for artists. These new buildings became a major contributing factor to the revitalization of Theatre Row.
The Waiver Wars took hold of LA County when Equity decided it was time to address the concerns of members who felt that there should be some kind of payment for their work in 99-seat theatre. The union imposed a $5 stipend per performance and producers declared the move to be the death knell of intimate theatre. Like today, Equity members (some of whom are also plaintiffs in the 2016 litigation) sued the union. The resulting 1989 out-of-court settlement agreement provided that the November 1988 version of the Los Angeles 99-Seat Theatre Plan adopted by Council could not be altered before 1991.
Equity’s National Representation Plan allowed Council to retain decision-making power for the union as a whole, but delegated to the Eastern, Western and Central Regional Board’s the regular business within their regions.
Additionally, the ‘90s were a decade in which Equity organized Walt Disney World, approved the merger of Broadway Cares with Equity Fights AIDS and created an organizing department to deal with the growing number of non-Equity tours.
In the new century, Equity reaffirmed its commitment to and support for equal rights for LGBTQI+ Americans, speaking out against legislation that sanctioned discrimination. Equity supported marriage equality and the legislation that made marriage a reality for everyone.
Actors’ Equity Association celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2013. The union became a direct member of the AFL-CIO and received a Special Tony Award to kick off the year-long celebration.
In 2014 – 93 years after Equity opened its first office there – the union purchased its own building in North Hollywood and now has a permanent home in LA.