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    Posted January 18, 2007

Actors' Equity's Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs and the League of Professional Theatre Women

Present

THE GYPSY ROBE - IN OUR TIME

A Black History Month Celebration Honoring
African-American Recipients of the Gypsy Robe

Monday, February 12, 2007 - 7 PM

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center Bruno Walter Auditorium
111 Amsterdam Avenue

In celebration of Black History Month 2007, AEA's Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO) Committee, the Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs (ACCA), and the League of Professional Theatre Women, are proud to present "THE GYPSY ROBE - IN "OUR" TIME, a salute to the contributions of the Black Chorus Actor and the Gypsy Robe tradition, honoring the African-American recipients of the Gypsy Robe.

Showtime is at 7 PM at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium - 111 Amsterdam Ave at 65th Street. Tickets are free, but due to limited seating, reservations are required. Call 212.869.8530 x 399, or email info@actorsequity.org.

Staged by A. Wellington Perkins and written by Pi Douglass and A. Wellington Perkins, THE GYPSY ROBE - IN OUR TIME will feature performances by Gypsy Robe recipients Vanessa Ayers, Nikki Renee Daniels, Ramon Flowers, Tim Hunter, Judine Somerville, and Brynn Williams.

For over 50 years, the Gypsy Robe has been a theatrical tradition which honors the contributions, dedication and artistry of the chorus to the success of American musical theatre. The Gypsy Robe tradition began on October 12, 1950 when Bill Bradley, a chorus dancer in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES borrowed a dressing robe from fellow dancer Florence Baum and sent it over to another chorus dancer at the Imperial Theatre where CALL ME MADAM was opening that night saying that it was worn by all the Ziegfeld beauties and would bless their show. A cabbage rose from one of Ethel Merman's gowns was added to the robe and, on November 24, 1950, it was sent on to the opening of the next chorus musical, GUYS AND DOLLS.

Today, the Gypsy Robe is awarded to a member of the chorus who has the most Broadway chorus shows to their credit on opening night. As everyone gathers in a circle, the honored Gypsy, wearing the Robe, circles the stage three times in counterclockwise fashion as everyone touches the Robe. The Gypsy, still wearing the Robe, must visit all the dressing rooms in order for the show to be blessed. Each Broadway chorus musical will then add appliqués to the Robe to acknowledge their production.

Find out more about Equity's EEO Committee, Non-Traditional Casting and the historic fight against racial discrimination. Click to visit Equity's EEO & Diversity page.

Actors' Equity is proud to sponsor THE GYPSY ROBE - IN OUR TIME, reflecting the Union's historic and ongoing commitment to racial justice and equal opportunities for all. Although early 20th Century theatre mirrored a segregated society, Equity was one of the first unions to stand up against "Jim Crow." In 1944, Equity created a committee to assist minority actors who were turned away from segregated hotels "on the road." In 1947, disgusted by forced segregation of audience at the National Theatre in Washington, DC, Equity forbid its members to perform there until that policy was reversed in 1952. In 1964, Equity elected Frederick O'Neal, one of the founders of the Negro Actors Guild, as its President. By 1980, all Equity contracts contained clauses encouraging the casting of actors of color, actors with disabilities, women and seniors. Today, Equity strongly endorses the principals of non-traditional casting, while Equity's EEO and ACCA Committees meet on a regular basis to monitor issues affecting both African-American and Chorus Actors.

The League of Professional Theatre Women is proud to co-host The Gypsy Robe presentation with Actors' Equity Association as a tribute to Black History Month. The League is a not-for-profit advocacy organization promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in the professional theatre. Its membership represents a vast diversity of theatre professionals from New York to points throughout the world. The activities of the League range from its Edith Meiser Oral History taping of theatre women of distinction at the Library for the Performing Arts to panels, workshops, leadership luncheons, networking, mentoring, short plays festival, publications, travel and awards to women of achievement. The League will be presenting a groundbreaking exhibition of a 100 year retrospective of Women in Theatre Design beinning in late fall of 2007 in association with the New York Library for the Performing Arts in the Oenslager Galleries.

Tickets are free, but due to limited seating, reservations are required. Call 212.869.8530 x 399, or email info@actorsequity.org




 
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