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99 Seats (Part 2 of 2)

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What is 99? Los Angeles theater is at least partially defined by the Actors’ Equity 99 Seat Plan. This low-budget agreement has existed for decades, and a tight-knit theatrical community has grown up around it. A newly proposed change to the plan has rocked the LA intimate theater world, leading to serious questions about art, commerce, and the definition of labor. On today’s show, we investigate the issue from the front lines, hearing testimonials from Los Angeles Equity members on both sides of the fence— from a young company reaching the cusp of major growth to a 46-year Artistic Director of a storied institution, from working actors seeking artistic fulfillment onstage to passionate professionals who cannot afford their place within the current Los Angeles market.

We set out to represent a diversity of experiences and opinions, and we hope that we have done so; as with so much of art, there seems to be no right answer—except, perhaps, to continue the conversation.

In “99 Seats- Part 1” we heard from John Flynn of Rogue Machine Theatre, AEA stage manager and SDC director Armina Lamanna, and AEA  actors Joel Swetow, Matt Hermann, Rebecca Metz, Ramon DeOcampo, Christian Barlllas, Ann Colby Stocking and Ben Mathes.

“99 Seats- Part 2” features actors Miki Yamashita, Perry Ojeda, and Joel Swetow and 46-year Artistic Director of The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble Ron Sossi, and we turn to administratives from two New York-based arts institutions to talk about wealth distribution; HERE Arts Center’s producing Director Kim Whitener and Fractured Atlas Community Engagement Specialist Jason Tseng. Check out Jason’s article “I got 99 Seats, but Wage Equity Ain’t One” online at medium.com.

A huge thank you to all of our contributors and to Lucy Pollak, Adriana Douzos, Dariush Kashani, Actors Equity, I Love 99, HERE Arts Center and Fractured Atlas.

Check out I Love 99 for “Change, Just Not this Change”— ilove99.org.

Los Angeles-based Equity Members can visit the members-only portal at members.actorsequity.org to make their opinions known by April 17.