Actors' Equity didn't have to look beyond its own walls to find a replacement for its retiring central regional director. Kathryn V. Lamkey, senior business representative in Equity's Central Region office, will replace longtime director Fergus G. (Tad) Currie, who leaves the Chicago office he's headed for 10 years at the end of June.
Before joining Equity as a business rep in 1986, Lamkey, a union member since 1972, worked in many different aspects of theatre: as a stage manager, producer, director, lighting designer, and as general manager of a modern-dance company. She was also a high school teacher, and holds degrees from Eastern Illinois University and Columbia College Chicago.
Not surprisingly, expanding the union's scope for the Central Region's 2,500 active members represents one of Lamkey's key concerns. "We have gotten a tremendous amount of interest in the last few years of theatres and producers in general wanting to use Equity actors, recognizing their worth," she said.
Among the areas that Lamkey sees as ripe for Equity expansion are non-Equity tours and dinner theatres.
About the latter, she disclosed, "We're actually working very hard to try to interest some currently non-Equity dinner theatres into coming into the Equity fold . That group has actually been growing in the last few years. That's an area where there's work; it's simply work that we are not able to tap into at this time."
Equity has recently tapped into non-Equity Chicago theatres too small to afford the Chicago Area Theatre contract. With the addition of Tier "N," which allows the theatre to use a number of non-Equity performers each season, Lamkey said the union has been "overwhelmed" by interested theatres. "I think we have upwards of a dozen or more theatres that have come onto the Tiercategory," she said.
Lamkey, who has been Chicago senior business rep for three and a half years, said she will be "somewhat involved" with the upcoming negotiations with the League of American Theatres and Producers over the new Production contract.
"We'll be participating in terms of central regional representation," she explained. "We are getting a great deal more shows that are actually starting here in Chicago into the Production contract. We have our own 'Show Boat' right now; and with Livent coming into the Oriental Theatre, and the possibility that Disney may also be coming here, it's very likely that we will have more point-of-organization shows actually staying in town."
Currie is the incoming vice president for conferences for the Association of Theatre and Higher Education, which will be holding a conference in New York this August. He also will remain involved with A Season of Concern, the Chicago theatre industry AID