Home Performing arts Actor Danny Glover Supports California’s New Small Theaters Bill In Trouble Due To Pandemic

Actor Danny Glover Supports California’s New Small Theaters Bill In Trouble Due To Pandemic

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COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in theaters and cinemas, forcing them to close for more than a year. But as the pandemic recedes, a new bill making its way in Sacramento aims to support smaller theaters and ensure artists receive at least minimum wage.

Senate Bill 805 was introduced by Democratic Senator Susan Rubio of Baldwin Park. If enacted, it would allow small nonprofit performing arts organizations to pay certain salary costs commensurate with their limited budgets. It would also create a grant fund that arts organizations could use to pay people involved in productions. So far it has authorized the State Senate. On Tuesday, the bill made its way through Assembly committees after being unanimously adopted by the labor committee.

Advocates say it is a much-needed lifeline for local venues, especially those serving under-represented communities of color. Among its most ardent supporters is the famous actor and activist Danny Glover.

Prior to acting on the big screen and starring in the “Lethal Weapon” series, Glover made his stage debut in San Francisco.

“I couldn’t imagine where I would be without the local theater,” Glover recalls. He says small theaters were a hotbed for some of the most creative work available to him.

“You learn the craft of acting in the privacy of this small space,” he says.

Glover can recall precisely when he was bitten by the acting bug and knew acting was his calling.

“It was very crystallized,” he says. “It was 1976. I was taking classes at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and I did a production of ‘Blood Knot’ where we had this production and the capacity for our first performance was d. ‘about 40 to 50. people. “

He adds. “At that point, when we were on stage doing the whole production,… I knew that was what I wanted to do. I came to life in different ways in this space, and it gave me the building blocks to develop my own self-confidence. We only learn this by building confidence.

While performing on stage which fueled Glover’s passion for acting, he eventually made his way onto the screen and appeared in films like “The Color Purple”, “Silverado” and “Sorry to Bother. You “. However, his love for the theater stuck and in 1994 he started The Robey Theater Company in Los Angeles with his longtime friend Bennet Guillory.

It’s a small, non-profit venue that puts on shows, offers workshops, and gets some of its funding through state grants. While it’s well established, Glover says it’s exactly the kind of place that would benefit from the SB 805.

“We are still a small theater; we still have actors and actresses working on their craft, ”says Glover. “It’s a place to meet.

For decades, the Robey has dedicated himself to “the preservation of the black theatrical canon and the exploration and innovation that brings audiences into thought and action.” Supporters of SB 805 said it would help local theaters stay afloat and expand access to the performing arts. Glover believes this will allow more stories and a range of perspectives to find their way to the stage.

“When I think about community theater and the role it plays in storytelling, the stories that the community brings back to us, they basically tell us, ‘You tell my story – my story is alive, right here on this stage,’ says Glover. “My acting, the job that I started, was not to become a professional actor to begin with, but it was something to do to tell stories. Whether it is through improvisation, or whether it is through specific plays that allow the community to see and laugh at itself, to cry, to share a common place and a common pain.

“You see personal and collective revelations happening in the little theater,” says Glover.

Part of the bill, dubbed the “Save the Performing Arts Act of 2021,” would classify some workers in small nonprofit performing arts organizations as employees. In turn, the legislation would create a fund to pay them at least the minimum wage; usually they are paid per show and depend on what the organization can afford.

Rather than saying money validates work, Glover chooses a different word.

“Having compensation for your work, I’m going to use the word ‘professionalize’ your job – and you know your work is valuable when it’s paid for.”


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