The Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, which has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, is embroiled in a real-life drama against the Actors Equity Association.
The Gateway, along with four of its performers, has filed a lawsuit against the actors’ union as well as the Equity League provident funds, which administers the health and pension funds of union members. According to the lawsuit, the actors were deprived of their health and pension benefits and are being asked to reimburse more than $ 200,000 in medical costs incurred.
At the heart of the case is the union’s claim that the four actors were not considered “duplicates” when performing on the Gateway stage because they were not listed in the sheet. of play as playing a specific role.
According to Gateway Executive Artistic Director Paul Allan, substudies are in a very “loose” position, in that they are often asked to perform at any time if an actor becomes ill. Allan said Gateway “was following all the rules when it came to voice acting,” the performers were hired, given a script and had access to the director.
The problem is the union’s claim that Gateway has signed some employees who are not actors with Actors Equity contracts. Allan denies these claims. “One of the employees has worked at Gateway on a union contract for over 25 years,” he said. “In other instances, some of the employees who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit have performed at Gateway and at many other theaters throughout their careers.”
According to Allan, attempts to resolve these issues were rejected by the union. “They didn’t want to talk to us about it and we couldn’t come to any agreement,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Actors Equity Association is holding on. “Equity has reviewed the allegations in the lawsuit against it, believes they are completely unfounded and is confident that it will prevail in this lawsuit,” said Brandon Lorenz, a spokesperson for the organization, in a press release. “As he informed the court in October, he will proceed to dismiss all complaints against Equity.” Gillian Costello, attorney for Spivak Lipton LLP in Manhattan, which represents the Equity League funds, said in a statement that “the funds believe the claims in the lawsuit are without merit.”
In a statement, Gateway’s attorney, Bran C. Retirement Benefits. “
Allan said Gateway and Actors Equity had previously had a friendly relationship and he hopes they can continue to work together in the future.
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