Just What is A Professional Equity Theatre?



Equity, or an equity theatre, is short for the Actors’ Equity Association, or a labor union that represents professional actors and stage managers. So, an Equity theatre, and ours specifically, employs accomplished professional actors who belong to the Association, brings back guest stars for different performances, and every year allows for Apprentices to learn the trade of theatre and the craft of theatre production. As a union theatre, our Equity members come from Broadway and Hollywood, and our Apprentices play a huge role in the success of The Barn.

Formalizing Apprentice Actor Education

To formalize the education of these Apprentices, Betty Ragotzy took steps to create The Barn Theatre School for Advanced Theatre Training in 1992. We have been an Equity theatre since 1955, and since then have always been teaching apprentice actors alongside professionals. When we formalized the Barn Theatre School, it formalized the Apprentices’ education here even more. These Equity Membership Candidates earn points toward joining the union all while their Apprenticeship studies are dedicated to all aspects of professional theatre production.

When We Say All Aspects of The Theatre, We Mean ALL Aspects

These Apprentice Actors become inherently tied to our productions, both on-stage and behind the scenes. They participate in backstage duties, like construction, lighting, and costuming, and they perform in main stage shows and in the Bar Show. You’ll find them leading groups during our Backstage Xperience, helping to park cars for our patrons, breaking down sets and moving sets for each and every show. Through this active participation, our apprentices become Equity Membership Candidates and, if not already E.M.C.s, they begin accruing weeks toward his or her Equity card. These are all aspects of running a successful professional equity theatre, and they earn every single part of it.

One of a Kind Theatre, Right Here in Southwest Michigan

Here in Southwest Michigan and for the last 71 seasons, the Barn Theatre has built its reputation as one of the finest professional equity summer stock theatres in the country. This is all because of Jack and Betty Ragotzy and their drive to ensure that the Barn would be a destination for years to come.

Today their son Brendan and his wife Penelope, along with their leadership staff and Board continue this devotion of providing Apprentices with the best possible experience continue to carry on the rich tradition of professional equity theatre, creating Barnies who are part of the family for a lifetime!

We invite you to attend one of our many professional performances, which are unlike any live theatre performance you’ll find anywhere else in Michigan. And, get to know our staff, our apprentices and more about the Barn Theatre today. We look forward to seeing you soon!


Actors Equity Union: www.actorsequity.org

Backstage.com: 12 Things You Didn’t Know about Actors Equity Union.