Friday, February 01, 2008


A while ago, I wrote a post suggesting a way of garnering support for using local actors rather than imports. I created a website for SLAW where people could brainstorm. I was thinking about slightly different approach using the same "tear a page out of your program" approach. These can be used for other issues than imported actors, too.

This one involves the same target: a theatre that is importing actors, but is also employing some locals as well. Instead of creating a flyer addressing the issue directly, stand outside of the theatre and distribute a flyer with information about the actors in the play who are locals. Perhaps include their bio's, other shows they've done in Chicago, perhaps quotes from reviews for their previous shows, maybe a brief interview. And then suggest that the spectators show their support for those actors by tearing out the program page with their bio and leaving it in the aisle. So instead of seeming to attack a theatre for importing actors, you are instead applauding them for using locals.

You could do the same thing when a theatre offers a production of a world premiere by an American dramatist. Perhaps distribute a flyer about how infrequent this is happening around the country (you could use the information I published here as a starting point if you like), applaud the theatre for doing it, and suggest that they -- yes, you guessed it -- tear out the playwright bio and leave it in the aisle to show approval.

The SLAW idea got a lot of positive notice when I first proposed it, but there has been no activity on the wiki and no indication of anybody wanting to try it out. So I will make this offer: if you are willing to distribute the flyers, I will write it for you (after you give me the information about the specific situation). Email me if you like: walt eight two eight at gmail dot com. (I actually don't know why you're supposed to write it out, but I've noticed others have done this elsewhere, so it must have something to do with spam or something, right?)


Anonymous said...

I follow the idea, but that's a lot of paper to leave lying around for a theatre's employees or volunteers to clean up. Not likely to promote a GOOD feeling at the theatre about employing the local actors or premiering the new play that has resulted in... litter.

Also, tearing out pages also means that programs can't be reused by patrons at a later performance, a green practice that a lot of theatres are using now.

So, endorsement for the underpinning idea, but questions about the method of expression.

Scott Walters said...

That's true (if a lot of people do it), but the idea is to make the expression as easy as possible. And yes, the paper will have to be cleaned up, but in some ways this is a protest, and protests have to do something to attract attention. It is hard to ignore papers in the aisle. Think of it this way: if it worked, the amount of gasoline saved on travel for the imported actors will offset the paper cost many times over. Or -- do you have a better idea? One that is 1) anonymous, 2) easy?

Anonymous said...

I am a theatre artist in Providence, RI (mostly an actor/student). I love your SLAW plan of action and have been telling anyone who would listen about it. I also teach a few theatre classes and have lively (sometimes) discussions about the desperate and important need to support new work and local talent. I have been to the SLAW website a few times and must confess I like it, but am at a loss as to how to add to it (not technically, but content-wise). Providence has a few national tours stops, but on the whole does very well with local talent (Providence Black Rep, Perishable Theatre [a lovely haven for new work], the Gamm, and of course Trinity Rep.) I don't get to Boston or NY to often to see shows, but will certainly tear a page when I do! I say all this to simply say: don't lose heart. We are out here. Just not necessarily in the right geography.

Anonymous said...

No alternative ideas to suggest for now, but I'll give it some thought.

Fairly sure you're the gasoline exchange is closer than you might think, though. It's either Equity or LORT rules -- pretty sure it's Equity, but not absolutely sure -- requires that theatres hiring actors from out of town provide housing within 1/2 mile of the theatre. Compare a single round trip for an out-of-town actor to the daily round trip commute for an actor who lives "locally" -- which could mean anything up to 50 miles away -- over at least six weeks, up to ten in most nonprofit theatres and longer in commercial situations -- and that's a lot of gas.

Scott Walters said...

I was thinking more the gasoline or airplane fuel necessary to bring them from NY.

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