Actors’ Equity Rolls Out Major Changes to Audition Process

Actors’ Equity Rolls Out Major Changes to Audition Process

Pictured: The rehearsal/audition room at the Actors’ Equity Association Chicago offices. 

In an email to its members, Actors’ Equity Association—the union that represents professional stage actors—announced that effective immediately, the process will be handled online through the re-vamped member portal, where audition posts can be saved in a cart and appointments can be made on a mobile-friendly website.

The change is a welcome one for union members, who previously had to call in to make appointments during business hours. Non-union actors—including Equity Membership Candidates, who earn points to gain membership—however, have been expressing disappointment on social media that audition postings, which were posted for anyone to view on actorsequity.org, are now behind a members-only login. Equity says that all auditions will continue to be sent to Playbill, Backstage, and BroadwayWorld for posting, but those sites are independent and primarily New York or Los Angeles focused—and Backstage requires a paid subscription.

Many Chicago actors believe this is a problematic decision in a city where union-affiliated shows hire many non-union actors. Questions have arisen as t0 whether the move is to help insulate Equity auditions from non-union “crashers” turning up without appointments (non-union actors have never been able to make appointments, instead they show up and get on a wait list to be seen), and whether this change will inadvertently affect attempts to make Equity more diverse.

A request to host Chicago-area postings on PerformInk was not immediately returned.

UPDATE: PerformInk has been in contact with the Chicago AEA Member Services Department and will immediately begin receiving and posting all equity jobs to our site. We are pleased to be able to offer the Equity and Non-Equity community an audition board that touches all corners of the Chicago audition scene. This partnership will allow for more immediate and thorough access for EMC and Non-Equity actors, while still allowing Equity actors the convenience Equity’s new online site will offer them. 

About author

Abigail Trabue

Abigail has worked as an actor/director in Chicago for over ten years, and along with husband Jason Epperson founded Lotus Theatricals in 2015, and PerformInk Chicago and Kansas City in 2016 (where she serves as Managing Editor of both publications). When not talking shop, Abigail is raising three padawans with Jason, drinking lots of coffee, converting school buses into RV's, and eating all the foods at Disney World. You can find her on Twitter @AbigailTrabue

Comments
  • David#2

    July 26, 2016

    Don’t most Chicago AEA companies that also use non-union members hold and post non-equity auditions separately from their AEA auditions? As I am not an actor, but rather an AEA Stage Manager–I am really asking.

    Also, I wonder if the move to the member portal was not malicious or an attempt to be exclusive, but rather just a necessity in order to allow for online sign-ups as the member portal seems to allow for a lot more interaction (dues paying, for instance). I would imagine that, at least, this feature (signing up online) would be a welcome improvement over having to phone in.

    Reply
    • Jason Epperson#3

      July 27, 2016

      David, I don’t think it was malicious either, and it is certainly an improvement for members. I think you are right about why it was done, but there are a lot of companies that do not hold separate non-union auditions. Also, a lot of people want to be union, and the only way to do that is to get points or get cast in a union role. I think the ones that are particularly upset about this are the EMC candidates, since they have paid to join the program, and need to audition for AEA shows.

      Reply
      • Ashton Byrum#4

        July 28, 2016

        I’m pretty sure this was primarily done for the NYC market. It’s no secret that there are many more 1000s of AEA members there – and up to this week – they were all still required to sign-up in person at the 46th street office (hardly convenient – and even more difficult for folks coming in from out of town). You could easily be #450 on the list – and even after they called names and figured out the real number of attendees from the “no-shows” – your actual number could still be in the hundreds. However, since the audition procedures have been different for Chicago for many years (call in appointments!! – quite an upgrade) – I don’t know why they couldn’t continue to be “different”. I think this will result in less AEA calls in Chicago – and more non-equity auditions for Equity theaters that hire non-union actors.

  • Bill Harrison#5

    July 27, 2016

    It would sure be great if AEA audition postings could be made right here on this very website.

    Reply
    • PerformInk#6

      July 28, 2016

      Bill, we are very pleased to be able to say we’ve been in contact with AEA and will be hosting Equity auditions on the PerformInk job board!

      Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *