Patrick will be starring in the Last Cyclist at the West End Theater this May - June. Click here for info

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway

I've gotten my first email question!
Break out the bubbly, friends. This is cause for a celebration!

Patrick,

  Hello person I feel like I know because I keep up with your blog. First time writer, long time reader here.

  I'm new to the city. I've recently moved here from L.A. where I'm sure you know it's a much different beast. After working in L.A. for a few years I've decided to make the reverse trek that everyone else apparently does. NY has a booming film industry as well as theater. I want to get back to my theater training a bit and stretch those muscles while also working with my agent to hopefully work my way into one of the many television shows filmed here.  My question to you, that I'm finding it hard to get answered is about Broadway and specifically Off-Broadway.  I'm pretty well versed in film. But when it comes to stage I'm at a bit of a loss. I've seen a lot of auditions for Broadway shows, but I've also seen a lot that say Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. What is the distinction? And is there one that is beneficial over the other?

  Any help would be so very kind!

Justin

Justin!
GREAT QUESTION! And it's one that causes a lot of confusion and contention among theater artists.

Hello new friend!  I chose to answer this in a blog format as opposed to a direct email because, well...you're my first write in question!
Exciting...no? Imagine I've just thrown confetti at you and I'm apologizing for getting it right in your eye.

There are so many terms thrown around there every day that its hard to sift through and find out whats real and whats not. Basic rule of thumb is size of the house. How many seats. That basically defines what code it falls under. That's not all encompassing, but it's close.

We'll start off with the easy one:

OFF-OFF-BROADWAY.  
This really refers to any small theater. 99 seats or less. In reality there is no such thing as OffOff. It's just a designation for the smaller houses and non-union theater. Indie theater, Downtown theater, Independent Theater; these are better names for this type of theater. Small houses, many of which are in the 60-seat range. The majority of actors are non-union or AEA working under the AEA-Showcase code. (Basically allowing actors to work on non-union shows.) Doing a showcase will not garner you an equity card. It will not give you points. (If that's what you're looking for) But it is usually some of the most rewarding work. It's where we can be the most experimental. Imagine the work you did in college in your studio class, just now with an audience. Most actors out of school, or just moving from another region will find work here. It's how we grow and learn

BROADWAY
I think this is the second easiest.  You know when you're auditioning if this is going to be a in one of the big Broadway houses or not. In the breakdown it'll say who's producing it and what theater it's going to be in. Along with the type of call itself. Be it an audition for a principle or a chorus. The notice will say Longacre Theater, or Minskoff. Or it's an audition for a show currently running on Broadway and they're looking for replacements or understudies for down the line. The notice itself will say at the bottom what contract it falls under, LORT, LOA, LOA-NYC. These are just the different types of AEA agreements out there.  A break down of these contracts can be found on Equity's site, HERE.


Now for the 3rd kind.
OFF-BROADWAY
This one I feel is the source of most contention and issues. It seems like everyone claims their project to be "OFF-BROADWAY." I recently went to a seminar lead by Lisa Gold where an actor got up and was asking about how he could better market himself since moving (just like you) from L.A. to NYC. He said he's had some success booking roles but not as much as he would like. He said he had done some OFF-BROADWAY, but wanted to do bigger things and hopefully television. Lisa's first question was, "Are you Equity?" To which he replied, "No." "Then you didn't do anything OFF-BROADWAY."

If something is OFF-BROADWAY then it is a show covered under AEA. You'll sign a contract. It will have a specific length of time for it's run. And the house? Will have at least 100-499 seats. It's based on the seating capacity of the theater. Along with seating capacity, it's based on the specific play, musical, show..etc. It must adhere to the correct AEA agreement.

Now at one point the theater in question had to be within a certain proximity to the theater district. It has since been revised and includes almost any theater with a capacity of 100-499. Beyond 499 and it becomes a different agreement. One of the bigger contracts.  A list of OFF-BROADWAY theaters can be found HERE. If there is ever any doubt, here is the link to Equity's info on OFF-BROADWAY. This
breaks it down quite nicely.

And at the end of the day, if you're signing a contract it's either a BROADWAY or an OFF-BROADWAY production. If there is no contract then it's a non-union production, or a showcase with AEA actors in it.

One is not better than the other. But it's important to know what you're getting into. Most casting directors also know which shows are OB and which are not. So make sure your resume is accurate. You don't want to be called out on it, like the actor in Lisa Gold's seminar.

I hope this was helpful! And I hope other people find this equally useful. It's always a good idea to read everything and know exactly what you're getting into.