In Los Angeles, since the 1980's, the Actors Equity union has allowed "the 99-seat theater plan." Members can accept token stipends for live performances in small theaters, where they rehearse for free. The Drama Critics Circle says most of the plays it has honored would never have been produced if it weren't for the plan — which made them affordable. But the national union now says it's time for a change. Six thousand local members will start voting in two weeks on whether they should be paid California's minimum wage of $9 an hour.
Photo: Ian W. Hill