Dallas — Second Thought Theatre has big plans for the future, and foremost in their minds is paying artists better wages in order to increase the theater's already high standards for quality theater—and give more reasons for theater artists to live and work here. The group has announced several changes as they approach the 2017 season, most significant of which is upping its Actor's Equity Association (AEA) agreement from "special appearance" contracts to Small Professional Theatre (SPT). AEA has a program that helps small companies make this transition over several years.
With this move, Second Thought becomes one of several Small Professional Theatres in North Texas, joining Amphibian Stage Productions, Circle Theatre, Stage West, Theatre Three, Trinity Shakespeare Festival, Undermain Theatre and WaterTower Theatre. Five other theaters in town have AEA contracts larger than SPT: Dallas Theater Center (our only LORT outfit), Casa Mañana, Dallas Children's Theater, Lyric Stage and Uptown Players. A number of other groups, including Kitchen Dog Theater, Jubilee Theatre, Shakespeare Dallas, WingSpan Theatre Company and Echo Theatre, use special appearance contracts.
(Editor's Note: This article has been amended since first posting, to denote that Uptown Players is not an SPT, but an LOA, or Letter of Agreement, theater, which is a higher level than SPT.)
The SPT switch isn't the only news with Second Thought Theatre. The group, led by Artistic Director Alex Organ, has a new mission to develop new work by local writers, beginning with a collective work being written by four area playwrights; they also have Southern Methodist University theater faculty Blake Hackler's The Necessities on the 2017 season.
STT has also added a part-time position, Director of Communications, filled by local actress Danielle Pickard. The group has one full-time employee, Director of Operations Drew Wall.
Here's more on the changes from the Second Thought news release:
Second Thought Theatre announced today changes and new additions being made within the organization ahead of their 2017 season, which opens in January.
“Having just celebrated our largest and most successful State of Mind fundraising event yet, we are ready to shift gears and focus on how Second Thought can continue to support the Dallas theater scene and the local community at large,” said Alex Organ, Artistic Director. “That goal is beginning to manifest itself in a couple of different ways. We’ve adjusted our mission statement to include the importance of ‘empowering top local theater artists to take risks’ – and in our view, that means paying them a more sustainable wage. We are also developing a New Works Initiative and have increased our staff size in support of these steps forward.”
Second Thought was previously able to employ union-affiliated actors through the "Special Appearance Agreement" with Actors Equity Association (AEA), the labor union representing American actors and stage managers in the theatre. Beginning with their 2017 season, Second Thought will employ union actors under AEA’s “Small Professional Theatre” (SPT) agreement, which not only increases weekly compensation rates but also allows STT to offer health insurance eligibility to AEA members. Organ added, “It’s an investment in our local arts community and an illustration of our desire to retain local talent in the Dallas area. The only way to guarantee that retention is by offering competitive wages and health benefits. This new agreement is a big step toward being able to do that and is a cornerstone of our new mission statement.”
Another aspect to Second Thought’s new mission statement includes a commitment to fostering local artists and developing the work of local playwrights. To that end, Second Thought has engaged four local writers—Janielle Kastner, Jonathan Norton, Lee Trull, and Hannah Weir—to collectively develop a new piece under the direction of Trull, Director of New Play Development at the Dallas Theatre Center. At this time, Second Thought is only committed to developing the piece, which is using the John Wayne film McClintock as source material, in workshop. “We may decide to produce the play in full at a later date, bur for now the most important part of the project is providing these playwrights an opportunity to focus on the development stage of their new works with funding and support from Second Thought,” said Organ. In addition to this initiative, Second Thought is also producing the world premiere of local playwright/actor/director and SMU professor Blake Hackler’s The Necessities as the final show in their 2017 season.
To support the many changes and additions Second Thought is taking on in 2017, they have also added the role of Director of Communications to their staff. Filling the new position is local actor and long-time Second Thought Theatre collaborator Danielle Pickard. Pickard was previously seen in Second Thought’s productions of Cock and Othello and has been a consistent player in the DFW theatre scene for the last 10 years. Organ noted, “STT is unbelievably fortunate to expand its relationship with Danielle Pickard. In addition to her continued artistry as an actor, Danielle possesses an invaluable administrative skill set that will allow us to expand our infrastructure in new and exciting ways. We are overjoyed that she's joining the team.” As Director of Communications, Pickard will contribute to public relations, marketing, and development initiatives.
Second Thought Theatre’s 2017 season will be presented as follows: Grounded (Jan. 11 – Feb. 4); Straight White Men (April 12 – May 6); and The Necessities (July 5 – July 29). All performances will take place at Bryant Hall next door to the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.
To learn more about Second Thought’s 2017 season or how to purchase season subscriptions or single tickets, please visit 2tt.co. Season subscriptions can also be purchased by phone at 1-866-811-4111.