Back Stage welcomes letters on performing arts issues. All letters should run no more than 250 words, include the writer's address and phone number, and are subject to editing.
Actress Urges Integrity
I am responding to Robert Anton's letter in your Feb. 20 issue: "Actor Pleads for Nonunion Tours."
In his second sentence, Mr. Anton asks, "Isn't there enough work to go around?" When I joined Actors' Equity Association in 1976, unemployment among union members was roughly 85%. It was still roughly 85% when Mr. Anton "came to New York over 10 years ago"; it remains roughly 85% today. In short: there is not enough work to go around.
Mr. Anton declares, "[I] figure I will take my card again when I get a good-paying union gig." I am appalled at his cavalierism. Yes, we were "once all nonunion actors," and nonunion production is a fine and honorable arena in which to hone our craft. But the union's new-members lecture impresses upon us that the union is not a revolving door, but a long-term commitment to our profession, to our peers, and to our own integrity.
Finally, having revealed that he left the union "by working out of the country and not paying my dues," Mr. Anton bemoans the fact that he must "now turn down roles in regional theatres where they pay Equity actors well and offer non-Equity peanuts."
Perhaps, after all, he begins to see why we need a union.
AEA, SAG, AFTRA