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Theater Talk: Michele Ragusa at Lincoln Center, Actors' Equity launches "OPEN ACCESS" (extended web version)

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Buffalo's own Michelle Ragusa to be in FLYING OVER SUNSET at Lincoln Center's Beaumont Theater starting in November

Anthony has his tickets to see Buffalo's own Michelle Ragusa in FLYING OVER SUNSET in the Eero Saarinen designed Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. It's a few months off, but still a thrill as "Broadway" becomes more and more a reality. Meanwhile, the actors' union, Actors' Equity, in a bid to increase the number of BIPOC (Black, Indiginous, People of Color) members, has changed its eligibility rules. (See below). Also, scroll down for an AUDITION NOTICE for the live, on-stage version of Second Generation's upcoming musical SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD previously only streamed (read Peter's review of that here).

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FLYING OVER SUNSET to run at Lincoln Center from November through February

FLYING OVER SUNSET, written and directed by James Lapine, has an unusual premise: "It's 1950's Hollywood. You are in Malibu with Cary Grant, Clare Boothe Luce and Aldous Huxley and they are on an acid trip. Together. All three of these extraordinary people were known to experiment with LSD – it was legal then and used for self-awareness and psychological exploration. Nobody knows if they ever really shared a trip, but they were all in and around LA in the 1950s... Who’s to say it never happened?" With music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Michael Korie, and choreography by Michelle Dorrance, it is scheduled for November through February.

Actors' Equity
Actors' Equity has a new OPEN ACCESS initiative to increase participation by actors who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color

Since 1913 Actors' Equity has been, like its sister union, SAG-AFTRA for the motion-picture industry, the primary union representing actors in obtaining better pay, working conditions, health insurance, retirement benefits, and more.
On their website they explain in detail about their OPEN ACCESS initiative as follows:

And it’s more important than ever for actors and stage managers to stand together in solidarity to make theatre a safer, more equitable industry. Are you ready to become a union member? Begin your application here.

Put simply, Equity membership is now open to any stage manager or actor who has worked professionally on a theatre production in the United States. We’ve also made it easier for former Equity members to rejoin the union.

For many years, eligibility to join Actors’ Equity Association has been limited to those who are working for an Equity employer – either by direct contract offer or through the Equity Membership Candidate program – or to members of a sibling union.
But Equity theatres, like all entertainment industry employers, are disproportionately run by white people, and their programming and hiring decisions show that they often hold biases in favor of people from similar demographics. In fact, recent hiring studies demonstrate that Equity contracts are disproportionately offered to white people, and the majority of new members join via a contract.

Because our membership rules until now have left access to membership in employers’ hands, they have implicitly created a disproportionately high barrier to access for actors and stage managers of marginalized identities. We have inadvertently contributed to the systemic exclusion of people of color and people of other marginalized identities from the benefits of union membership.

"We are taking steps to change that. Open Access is one major step.

If you are an EMC or a former member, or if you have previously worked in an Equity theater, we may already have the information needed to confirm your eligibility to join Equity. Otherwise, if you have worked professionally as a stage manager or actor in the United States, you will need to provide proof of that work and proof of payment for that work (e.g. pay stub, W2, 1099, etc.). Your application and a $600 down payment toward the initiation fee are required by May 1, 2023.

Learn more about Dues & Fees.
"Former members and former applicants to Equity membership can have previous initiation fee payments credited towards the amount owed for joining or rejoining. All members now have three years to pay off their initiation fee.

"Open Access is currently in effect until May 1, 2023. In the meantime, Equity will be developing a permanent gateway to membership that addresses racial inequities in accessing membership in the union."

And Theater Talk has an AUDITION NOTICE for a musical last seen only by streaming. And Peter loved it (read his review here) so this promises to be a good gig. Interested parties should contact Kelly Copps at secondgenerationtheatre@gmail.com. Please use subject line SONGS AUDITION.

The particulars: Second Generation Theatre is seeking an actress to play WOMAN 1 (soprano voice part) in the company's October-November production of "Songs for a New World," at the Shea's Smith Theatre. The production is directed by Amy Jakiel with music direction by Stephen Piotrowski. Auditions will be Monday August 16th at 6:30 p.m. at Mount St. Mary Academy (3756 Delaware Ave, Kenmore NY 14217). All ethnicities strongly encouraged to audition. Please prepare 32-64 bars of a Jason Robert Brown song or a song in the style of "Songs for a New World." All auditioners must be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination is required.

Interested parties should contact Kelly Copps at secondgenerationtheatre@gmail.com. Please use subject line SONGS AUDITION.

Listen for Theater Talk, Friday morning at 6:45 and 8:45 during Morning Edition.
Even though "semi-retired," Peter Hall continues to wear many hats. He is the Sunday afternoon host on WBFO’s “sister station,” Classical 94.5 / WNED where he has produced over 1,000 radio interviews with musical artists. If you see him at a theater with a pen in his hand, he’s probably getting ready to co-host “Theater Talk” with Anthony Chase (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO) or to write a review for www.buffalorising.com. He is also a member of the "Artie Awards" committee (think “Tony Awards for Buffalo theaters”).
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