Equity`s statement on the Red Bull issue is quite different: “At a time when almost everyone in art is managing without a regular paycheck and worrying about his health care, it is deeply sad to see that some employers will still ask shareholders to work without contract protection.” An Equity source told me that every employer must verify in a collective agreement with the union whether they are using members, and whatever form that work takes. (At a time when new forms such as fungi appear after rain, this absolutism could prove difficult.) The source notes that 80 other theatres have agreed to the conditions. But the fact that Red Bull didn`t contact the guild seems to be the most serious point. Contact us first, Equity asks for negotiations to take place. However, while charitable work and fundraising by equity members are covered by the theatrical authority`s guidelines, according to the site, the application must be filed 30 days before the event. Thirty days ago, it was March 1st, it was, well… another country. This is not a movie. Unless it is. It`s certainly not TV.
It`s… Theatre on a screen? As COVID-19 continues to advance online industries, a bay area association is exploring a hybrid platform that could preserve theater because of the pandemic – and perhaps beyond. The Actors` Equity Association (AEA), commonly known as Actors` Equity or Simply Equity, is an American union representing the world of live theatre performances, unlike film and television shows (represented by SAG-AFTRA). However, performers who perform live on stage without a book or a passing story (varieties, cabarets, circuses) can be represented by the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA). In 2010, Equity represented more than 49,000 theatre artists and stage directors.  But last Thursday, the Actors` Equity union said by email that it was violating their agreement. A representative of the AEA companies wrote: “I would like to remind you that the disclosure agreement is prohibited from registration, which would not be permitted under the terms of that agreement.” The Red Bulls were flummoxed: it wasn`t a recording and it wasn`t a revelation, but still, Equity had the power to stop them. Some frantic weekend emails and phone conversations on Monday didn`t make the situation right. They were offered conditions (payment of actors` salary and health care) that, according to artistic director Jesse Berger, “were extraordinary for a company of our size – they were prohibitive.” Red Bull rejected these conditions.