Style on Stage LA

Odyssey Theatre's Wage Drama: A Simple Guide

by Rasi A on Aug 29, 2023

The Claim: What's the Buzz?

Ann Colby Stocking, an actress, has made a bold move. She's filed a complaint against Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. The complaint is for over $6,000, combining unpaid wages and penalties. She believes that she should have been paid more for her role in a play.

The core of this issue is the "99-Seat Theater Plan". Under this plan, actors can volunteer in small theaters. They get paid in stipends instead of regular wages. But was Ann a volunteer or an employee? That's the big question.

Behind the Scenes: The 99-Seat Theater Plan

The 99-Seat Plan has been active since 1989. It's a pact between the Actors’ Equity Association and actors. Actors can volunteer their time for stage rehearsals and shows in theaters with up to 99 seats. In return, they get stipends based on set rates per show.

But things get tricky. Some actors, like Ann, think they deserve minimum wage for their work. She's not alone. Others in the acting community also challenge this plan.

What Others are Saying: Different Takes

There are other theaters in similar hot water. CASA 0101, a 99-seat theater, is appealing against a ruling. The ruling claimed they wrongfully called their actors “volunteers”. There's also the Sacramento Theatre Company. They faced a challenge but later got a favorable ruling.

Andrew Turney, a lawyer, mentions a key point. He says actors who willingly act as volunteers shouldn't later challenge their status. If they do, they might be stopped from making a claim.

A Wider Look: More Drama Unfolds

David Mack, who supports Ann, runs a company called Artist Magnet. It aims to empower artists. He's been active, contacting actors at DOMA Theatre Company. Some say he's investigating if actors are paid fairly. But DOMA’s producer, Gomez, assures they've always followed the law.

Here's an interesting twist: Imagine wearing a tiered dress for a play, but not getting paid fairly for it. It's a bit like being promised a grand stage but performing in a tiny room.

What's Next: The Road Ahead

Actors’ Equity Association wants actors to get minimum wage, no matter the theater's size. But small theaters fear this. If they have to pay minimum wage, they might have to limit their shows or hire non-union actors.

As for Ann, she cares about Odyssey Theatre. She doesn't want to harm them. She just wants to address an issue close to her heart. The entire acting community waits, watching to see how this drama outside the stage unfolds.