Friday, November 7, 2014

It’s a Play! It’s Live Internet TV! It’s Both, and it Opens in Los Angeles on Friday

‘The Noir Series’ harkens back to the days of live TV but presents a thoroughly modern challenge to entertainment unions

Bad Medicine,' a segment from 'The Noir Series,' features a chain-smoking doctor and two disconcerting nurses. Credit: Turner Munch.

Somewhat like Shimmer, Saturday Night Live’s mysterious concoction that was both a floor wax and a dessert topping, a production called The Noir Series that runs this weekend in Los Angeles manages to be both a stage play and live Internet TV. You can buy “studio audience tickets” to see the show in person at the Schkapf Theatre or purchase online viewing tickets. The producers – who describe the show as a 90 minute omnibus comprised of “four plays inspired by the dark and pulpy noir of Hollywood’s past, filmed and streamed with an eye towards Hollywood’s future” – will be happy either way.

But will Actors’ Equity, the union that governs live theatre? Produced under the banner of Heretick Theatre Lab, The Noir Series seems to challenge Equity’s long-held determination to disallow recording or streaming of plays in order to preserve the primacy of the live performance.

Seemingly, the solution adopted by Heretick’s artistic director Jennifer Cotteleer is simple: the production went with a SAG-AFTRA new media contract rather than an Equity agreement. But it's not quite that easy: Cotteleer acknowledged that the production “is a play” -- and SAG-AFTRA contracts haven't always saved the day when the experiment was tried in New York.

For more on this innovative production and its challenges, click through to my article in The Hollywood Reporter.

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