Professional Equity Waiver theater is coming to Long Beach City College for the first time. Under an agreement completed recently between the college and the Actors Equity Assn.--the major union representing stage actors--professional actors will be allowed to perform in a 99-seat theater on the campus without having to be paid union wages.
"The concept is to bring educational theater closer to professional theater," said Shashin Desai, head of the LBCC theater arts department and artistic director of the college's newly formed International City Theatre.
By being able to work for less than union wages, Desai said, otherwise unemployed professional actors will be able to practice their craft in a small theatrical setting unlimited by the artistic boundaries of traditional commercial theater.
And by the actors' presence, he said, drama students and other aspiring professionals will be able to learn from observing and working in a professional environment.
The new professional productions--to take place in a 3-year-old theater adjacent to the campus auditorium--are not meant to replace, but to complement, the student theatrical program, Desai said.
Students with at least two years of drama experience, he said, will be allowed to participate in the Equity Waiver productions as apprentices. And between Equity Waiver productions, the theater will continue to be used for regular student productions.
The first scheduled Equity Waiver production--a drama called "A Quiet End" by New York playwright Robin Swados--deals with the AIDS crisis, Desai said. Previews are scheduled for Jan. 14-16, with regular performances Jan. 17-19, Jan. 23-26 and Jan. 30-Feb. 2.