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NEWS: MN Playlist Goes Political, Seeks Actors for Phone Bank

What’s a COVID-furloughed actor to do? For a select few, there were Zoom rehearsals, most of which have dried up. There are Zoom performances, most of which don’t pay or pay well. There are not-on-Zoom traditional actor side jobs, most of which not considered as safe a bet (or, really, safe) as before. It makes you want to pick up an actual phone and call people about it.

Actors calling people is exactly the idea, actually. A tossed-out idea during a Minnesota Playlist writers’ staff meeting has led the heads of the Twin Cities’ online theatre callboard to become political organizers of a sort. Damon Runnals and Erin McNeil of Minnesota Playlist took up the idea of an actor-centric calling board and are running with it.

“For so many of us in the performing arts community,” said McNeil and Runnals in a statement. “We are at a standstill. It is hard to know when there will be a thriving theatrical calendar again.” 

Where there is a challenge, however, the pair also see opportunity, “to set up a way for the Minnesota Playlist community to join a digital, remote phone banking session for the DFL.” After all, they noted, “As a group [actors], we are uniquely situated to bring energy, panache, and stellar script-reading skills to bear on the local electorate!”

Actors, it turns out, are very often involved in politics: on the streets, on talk shows, and as the voices of political ads. An organized group of actors as the live voices calling you and encouraging mail-in voting? That’s something new.

“For this first round, we will be working with the DFL to encourage mail-in voting and to help build voter lists,” McNeil and Runnals noted. “This is critical work–as we approach November, we will want to get as many of our fellow Minnesotans to vote as possible.”

Minnesota Playlist’s inaugural phone bank effort starts this afternoon (Tuesday, August 25th) from 5-7 PM. Participation requirements include interest, a phone, and a computer that can run Zoom. Interested parties are encouraged to email by Tuesday the 25th at noon, and to read the complete notice online.

Update, 8/26: After a successful debut, Minnesota Playlist’s phone banking efforts will continue every Tuesday from 5-7 PM through Election Day (November 3).

Amy Donahue