The Jeff Equity Award Process
Eligibility Rules and Procedures
The Equity season runs from August 1 – July 31 of each year. The presentation of the Equity Jeff Awards is made at a ceremony in the fall, usually around the first Monday in November.
II. ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS – EQUITY PRODUCTION
A. A theatre organization that has signed a production contract with Actors’ Equity and wishes to have that Production judged must notify the Equity chair by the 18th of the month before the month in which the opening performance of that production is to take place. In order for that Equity production to be judged, the theatre must show that it has committed to produce a minimum of 18 performances, excluding previews, over a period of at least 3 consecutive weeks. Additional requirements as to the minimum 18-performance rule are: at least one performance per week must take place on the weekend, one weekday matinee a week can be counted towards the minimum of 18 performances, and a production will become ineligible if it actually runs for fewer than the required minimum number of performances.
B. Additional eligibility requirements:
1. The Jeff Committee does not judge late-night performances (i.e., all curtains at or after 9:30 p.m.), puppet theatre, opera, performance art, children’s theatre, student or youth theatre, foreign language theatre, mime theatre, unscripted or improvised productions, or staged readings. The Committee no longer judges Touring Productions under its prior (and now eliminated) separate category of Touring Production Awards. A specific Production originating from a non-Chicago area CAT/LORT theatre (commonly referred to as a “Touring Production”) which is not being produced by a Chicago CAT/LORT Theatre is eligible for consideration if it is presented as part of that Theatre’s subscription season
2. The Committee does not judge evenings of multiple plays unless all artistic components, with the exception of actors, are the same for each (i.e. director, set designer, etc.). With rare exceptions, no performer in such productions will qualify for the Principal Actor/Actress category.
3. For productions presented in repertory, the minimum number of performances requirement may be modified, although for each show included in the repertory presentation there still must be at least three performances each week, with at least one of the performances on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, and a total of 14 performances.
4. A revival of the same work at the same theatre or by essentially the same company is not eligible to be judged in the Equity Wing if that prior production was judged in the same Wing less than seven (7) years earlier.
5. The Committee does not judge productions presented at locations located more than 30 miles driving distance from the Chicago intersection of State and Madison streets.
6. Theatres are to provide one (or two if requested) complimentary ticket for a Jeff Committee member to see an eligible Production.
Equity – Judging and Ballot Procedures
I. JUDGING PROCEDURE
A. Seven judges (5 Jeff judges and 2 A/T judges) are randomly assigned to attend the opening night. Jeff judges are generally limited to judging one opening per season for any company. Judges are not to judge productions if they have a conflict of interest with that company or any member of the cast or artistic team.
B. Judges call in votes by 7:00 a.m. the morning following the opening night for any elements of the production they consider excellent or to register no votes.
C. An Equity production is considered Jeff recommended if there are positive votes from at least 5 judges. For a play: votes for 2 elements, both with at least three votes, totaling 8 or more votes (4/4, 5/3). For a midsize musical: votes for 3 elements, each with at least 2 votes, totaling 12 or more votes (4/4/4, 5/4/3, 6/4/2, 6/3/3). For a large musical: votes for at least 3 elements, each with at least 3 votes, totaling 12 or more votes (4/4/4, 5/4/3, 6/3/3). OR, for each of the above, there are 20 or more votes from at least 5 judges; OR all 7 judges vote for the same element. For Equity productions with casts of fewer than 4 actors, only one element need receive at least 4 votes.
D. In the event that fewer than 7 judges attend an opening night (providing that at least 6 judges did attend), then the determination of whether a show is recommended may be made as follows: Votes from at least 4 judges with 4 or more votes for a single element plus 2 votes for a second element; OR a total of 18 votes from at least 4 judges; OR a vote for the same element from all 6 judges
E. If recommended, the theatre and the members of the Jeff Committee are notified. They are not told what elements of the production received votes. Each member is expected to see the production during the course of the run and submit a ballot voting for any element(s) he or she considers outstanding.
II. FINAL BALLOT PROCEDURE
A. At the end of the season (8/1 to 7/31) the ballots are tabulated. The top 5 vote recipients in each category are placed on the final ballot, provided the votes for that nominee fall within an appropriate percentage. In the case of a statistical tie, the category may be expanded to include more than 5 nominees on the final ballot.
B. On the final ballot, members may vote in any given category only when they have seen at least three nominees when there are five or more nominations or at least two when there are two to four nominations.
C. Voting in each category is to be “weighted voting” in which members may cast in each category the number of votes equal to the number of nominees seen, and may distribute those votes as their discretion.
The ballots are tabulated and the award recipients are determined after all final ballots are turned in. One recipient is identified per category, except in the case of a tie. Multiple awards may be presented for New Work, New Adaptation and Artistic Specialization categories, as they are non-competitive.