The Showcase Showup, an ensemble of New York-based theater artists, announces the launch of a year-long initiative designed to support work of merit and invention on city stages. Each week in 2013, members of the Showcase Showup will attend at least one Actors' Equity approved Showcase, and post recommendations of productions that feature high quality elements of one sort or another (strong performances, clever design, bold direction, etc.). In contrast to traditional review sites, the Showcase Showup is not intended to provide comprehensive critical response; to maintain the integrity of their endorsements, members will not write-up every show attended. Instead, the site will attempt to create an atmosphere of support and reliable recommendation, directing attention to (and encouraging attendance of) the most deserving productions.
In an effort to provide an outlet for its many industrious members, Actors' Equity Association, the Union for professional stage managers and performers, established the Basic Showcase Code for use in NYC theaters with 99-seats or less. According to the Equity website the Showcase code offers "an environment where members can 'showcase' themselves for possible future employment". In exchange for exposure and experience, professional artists agree to work without promise of health benefits or standard salaries (Showcase code producers are required to provide Equity members with, at minimum, a travel stipend to attend rehearsals and performances).
Unfortunately, despite their city-wide ubiquity and low ticket prices (admission is under $20 for the general public, and free if you're an industry pro or member of the Union), showcases boast notoriously poor attendance rates, particularly when it comes to the casting directors and producers they're designed to attract. Frustrated by this lack of attention for the excellent work of many of their colleagues, the Showcase Showup team conceived the idea for this year-long playgoing endeavor in hopes that shining a light on inspired artists will encourage peers and professionals in the entertainment industry to take more interest-- and pride-- in their community.
To avoid any conflicts of interest, Showcase Showup members will attend shows and post recommendations anonymously. They do acknowledge their status as proud working members of Actors' Equity, a distinction they highlight to remind their colleagues in the Union that admission to Showcase productions is complimentary (on a stand-by basis, as conditioned by Equity). The group hopes their experiment will boost both industry and public appreciation for the largely untapped network of talent and art that feeds the city.
For more information, visit http://showup.weebly.com.
Pictured: First showcase, GRIMLY HANDSOME by Julia Jarcho, playing through Jan 20.