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May 08, 2008


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Kinda surprised no one's commented on the TOC Equity piece.

Kris Vire

So am I, Tony.


Kris, there's a 500 character limit on comments to the article. I don't know what the exact limits are on blog posting comments, but the allowance seems to be a lot larger- which is why you probably get more responses here or in blog postings than to articles (or at the bottom of theatre reviews, for that matter). The limit discourages the more loquacious (okay, long-winded) posters among us.

Also, the article was a really interesting read, but personally I feel kind of talked out on that subject (or what's the blog equivalent? 'Typed' out?)

Kerry Reid

Kris, I've been wondering about what CAT contracts say about requiring companies to hire Equity stage managers. I would have to dig through notes from past articles (and I'm lazy today, lo siento), but I recall talking to someone in the last year or so who said what makes going Equity difficult in Chicago is if they have to hire Equity stage managers, because the competition is so fierce for them. Have you heard anything of that ilk?


The tier N (lowest tier) side letter to the CAT agreement states:

"The Theatre hires no more than two Actors on Equity contracts before hiring a Stage Manager on an Equity contract. An ensemble-based Theatre, however, may employ an additional Actor who is a registered member of its ensemble and a stage manager who is a registered member of its ensemble and an Equity Membership Candidate;"

After that it's pretty much a requirement. And often stage managers can be hard to find, Equity or Non.

Kerry Reid

Thanks, Tony. That clears it up a bit. And yes, I've often heard that stage managers are quite difficult to find, so I imagine a Tier N theater trying to hire an Equity stage manager would have a lot of competition for that person's services.


This surprises me, actually. Is that true? I'll acknowledge that there's a greater demand for competent stage managers than for actors, but even so...really? While an experienced stage manager is always preferred, anybody who is a member of actors equity (i.e., even people who have only worked as actors) are allowed to stage manage on equity productions. I would have thought that with the work weeks and health insurance situation as dire as it is currently, there wouldn't be any problem finding people to stage manage at least with lower tier contracts (where running/calling the show maybe wouldn't be as difficult, because the show wouldn't be as technically intricate for budgetary reasons). I know at least two actors in town who move back and forth between acting under Equity contract and stage managing under Equity contract- getting the requisite number of health weeks each year is more important than always being on the stage.

Kris Vire

Kerry and Tony, it's been my understanding (and Tony's quote seems to back this up) that if a company producing on Tier N is only using a single Equity actor, they don't have to hire an Equity stage manager. But the CAT contract does stipulate, Ed, that the stage manager must have prior work experience as a stage manager.

It's worth asking if there are enough Equity stage managers to go around, especially those willing to work at low-tier scales—the minimum salary for stage managers at Tier 1 is just over $200 a week.


So it does. So in order to SM for a CAT contract you need to have been hired as a union stage manager somewhere else? Or I guess apprenticing as an ASM would also be accepted. One of these days I have to re-read the whole thing on the Equity website- back when I was bright eyed and bushy-tailed and positive I'd be joining the union within six months, I went through and read the whole thing, but I think it's been renegotiated at least once since then. Thanks for the info, Kris.

Mark Jeffries

That's it--Tier N doesn't have to have an Equity stage manager.

And the Equity ensemble member designated as "stage manager" at Tier I doesn't have to call the show--the non-union "ASM" can do that.

It seems to me that John Hancock's commercial shows last fall at Theatre Building got Bob Brueler and Elaine Rivkin on "guest artist" contracts, so they could hire a non-Equity stage manager, but with Stephanie Hurovitz they got one of the best, union or non-union.

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  • Kris Vire
    I write about theater for Time Out Chicago. I write more about it here.

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