John, from the wonderfully named blog Tales of a Squishy Morph, just posted a manifesto for non-equity actors, imploring them not to work for free. His point:
In addition to my full-time job, you're asking me to spend 4-6 weeks in rehearsal and 2-4 weeks in performance. When I'm working on a show, I leave the house at 8:30 am and roll in after 11pm. This is time away from my friends, family and partner. My laundry and dishes pile up. My milk goes bad. I miss other people's shows. I miss family gatherings. I miss concerts, movies, museum exhibits, TV shows, and other cultural events. I spend money on gas, tolls, parking, bus fare, cab fare and subway fare to get to rehearsal.
It breaks my heart to see actors, especially those who are more than a few minutes out of college, working for free. Of course, they shouldn't, because it's humiliating. But of course, they have to, because otherwise they can't work.
It's unsolvable problems like this that make me happy not to be an actor. Playwrights get paid less than actors do, but the work is more forgiving to our schedules, and we get our names in lights. Or, more typically, written on a cheap 3x5 postcard.
I'm glad to see someone like John taking a stand on this, and I hope more can follow his example. Unless it means my play doesn't get produced, in which case, get back to work you damned layabouts!