Letter to the Editor: A Response to Equity’s Statement

Veteran actress Wendy Worthington, who is currently appearing in the National Tour of Wicked, sends this open letter in response to the statement made by Actors’ Equity concerning the 99-Seat Plan on June 28, 2016:

My Dear AEA Councilors:

Wendy Worthington
Wendy Worthington

Yes, I have indeed “become aware” of all of the events that have transpired in Los Angeles theatre in the last several years. And I am sorry to tell you that I view your version of these events  – pretty much all of these events – very differently than you present them here. The fact that you purport to represent me and my interests, yet characterize this entire situation in such foreign and hostile terms, made me despair of your ability to listen to anything – anything – that I and so many of my brothers and sisters out here in the foreign land of Los Angeles have to say about what has happened here. I am sorry to see that I was right.

You accuse a large portion of your own members of waging a “campaign of misinformation and propaganda.” Yet from my perspective, it is AEA itself that has been duplicitous, disingenuous, hostile, and categorically opposed to even trying to understand our situation. You say it is a matter of money. That is the one point on which I believe you. I have struggled from the beginning of this ugly period to understand AEA’s own motives. I can only conclude that you believe that the 99-Seat Plan costs Equity more than it is worth, and that you have been determined from the start to eliminate it, no matter what the artistic costs to this theatre community. We are not NYC. We do not bring in nearly enough money in our present form to buy a real and heartfelt voice in our own place in our own union. You say you represent our best interests. I do not believe you.

Had you respected our voices and our perspectives two years ago, we might have had a chance of having a genuine conversation, one that might have been able to find a way to satisfy both our need to include work in the theatre as part of our professional lives in this non-Broadway market and a real desire on AEA’s part to matter (financially as well as in every other respect) outside of the boundaries of New York City. But now your own ham-handed actions have taken us to court. Once again.

So be it.

You do not defend MY interests, and yet I consider myself a proud member of this union. AEA is more than you and your xenophobic view of what constitutes professional theatre in America. I sincerely hope that the federal courts reaffirm the broader membership that Equity was formed to serve.

In solidarity,
Wendy Worthington
Los Angeles, California

About Tracey Paleo

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Tracey Paleo is Associate Editor at FootLights Magazine. She's also the Founder and Chief Editor of the arts and culture site, Gia On The Move, where she often reviews live performance events.

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