Equity Calls on Producers to Postpone In-Person Auditions Over COVID-19 Concerns

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Things are changing fast these days. Earlier this afternoon, Actors’ Equity—the nation’s union for stage actors and stage managers—released a statement calling on producers to postpone Equity principal auditions (known as EPAs) and chorus calls (ECCs) in light of the Center for Disease Control’s discouraging gatherings of groups of more than 50 people. The CDC issued the recommendation on Sunday to contain the spread of coronavirus. 

Later in the afternoon on Monday, just after the union’s statement was released, President Trump held a news conference declaring new guidelines: no groups of 10 or over. 

Spring is audition season for actors, but the pandemic has dismantled American life within the span of only a few days. Many producers have voluntarily canceled or postponed auditions, and virtually all theaters in the United States have closed their doors—from Broadway to Off-Broadway, from regional stages to touring productions. In recent days, movie theaters have also put a pause on operations. For perhaps the first time in United States history, live performances and gatherings from coast to coast, border to border are ill-advised if not outright banned. 

Such measures are attempts from government officials, public health officials, university presidents, business owners, and citizens of all walks to life to “flatten the curve” and prevent the virus from rising to unmanageable levels of contagion. 

With social distancing and isolation (whether mandated or voluntary) expected to escalate for weeks, unions and producers will likely all be in the same boat wondering, “What happens next?” Actors’ Equity has already initiated a campaign lobbying for federal and local relief funding for the industry. 

Backstage will provide updates on canceled or postponed auditions.

To stay up-to-date on the latest health and society developments, follow the CDC’s website and local government communications.

If you’re an entertainer recently affected by coronavirus, check out our COVID-19 entertainer resource page.