Now they’re upping the ante. This month, the theater signed a “small professional theater contract,” which means it has full Equity status, allowing it to use more union actors and production staff.
Whiteway says the designation is part of an effort to “keep the Barksdale moving forward and to strengthen it artistically and financially.”
Under the old contract, the theater may have had a few Equity actors in a production. But now the theater meets all the criteria to be designated an Equity theater; including specifics on hours of rehearsal, size of house and number of performances. It will have a wider pool of talent to choose from.
Still, Whiteway says audiences may not notice a striking difference.
Ticket prices are set for the season, and he says they won’t go up substantially after that. The main difference is that the theater will choose from a bigger pool of actors and stage managers. But he’s quick to note that the theater will not abandon local non-Equity actors or be hiring more out-of-town talent.
“They’re really committed to hiring people here whether they’re Equity or non-Equity,” says the theater’s publicist, Judi Crenshaw. “They want to do that for good will and also they think it’s a smart business decision.”
The Barksdale will not move ahead with a LORT Equity status like the one that TheatreVirginia had (something that increases ticket prices and overall production costs) unless it’s confident the community will support the move financially, Whiteway says. “What I care about is good theater year after year.”
The Barksdale’s next production, “Light Up the Sky,” which opens Jan. 30, will be its first under the new contract. The play features five local Equity actors and an Equity stage manager. — Carrie Nieman
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