Equity

The Life of a Performer

Guest blog by Jamie Soltis / Episcopal Actors' GuildAh, the life of a performer. What could be more glamorous? Sailing along the seas of survival jobs, living on the free pizza at Crocodile Lounge, avoiding the wacko roommates (who, insanely, think you're the wacko)-- why doesn't everyone live like this?  If you ask me, most of us are not so motivated by things like routine and security, but by some variation of passion. Some of us need to tell a story, some love to spread joy, provoke thought, or evoke emotion; all of us feel a certain pull to be doing what we do. Performing is a noble service, but it is not without its challenges! I'm an actor, and I just started a new survival job at this magical place that I wish I knew existed YEARS ago- The Episcopal Actors' Guild (EAG). EAG exists to provide charitable assistance to performers that are going through a financial crisis. (And PS-- don't let the name fool you. This nonprofit is, and always has been, for NYC performers of all faiths, and none. If you're into NYC history, definitely read up on ours.) Since 1923, EAG has been able to help clients with critical issues such as:

  • Eviction
  • Housing Court Stipulations
  • Utility Shut-Offs
  • Emergency Medical and Dental Costs
  • Transportation

Furthermore, an alarming amount of performers have told us they don't have enough to eat. So in response, we created the Actors Pantry. Now, when a performer comes to us for financial assistance, they’re able to leave with a bag of nutritious, delicious groceries as well. Thanks to our donors and members, we also have funding for performers living with HIV/AIDS, families who are struggling with life-altering illnesses, and veteran actors who have retired. And, hallelujah, once a year, we offer free headshots to our clients!The help provided to performers in crisis is one side of the Guild. The other side is that we are a sweet, sweet actors' club! Located at 1 East 29th Street in Manhattan, EAG is on the second floor of the landmarked "Little Church Around the Corner." Guild Hall is decked out with historical relics from famous actors of yore and is just about the coziest place I have ever set foot in. Plays, readings, and cabarets grace our stage regularly. We host a bunch of free events for members like our Artist Afternoon career-development workshops (with topics like scene study, Shakespeare, Feldenkrais, meditation), Broadway Book Club, and actors/playwrights/poet nights. We also have the pleasure of meeting the numerous theatre companies who rent our space. And usually, there's wine.One of my favorite things about theatre is the new set of friends you make with each play. Lovely, talented friends that you promise to keep in touch with after closing. When I first moved to New York, I found myself pining for a theatre community like the one I left in Philly. I'm really, really grateful to have found this at EAG. Don't fret, fellow commitment-phobes, you only come by when you want to come by. Membership for performers ranges from $30-$45 per year and goes to helping our charitable work. See you at the Guild!The Episcopal Actors' Guild1 E. 29th St.New York, NY 10016actorsguild.orgFacebook, Twitter, Instagram: @actorsguildnyc