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January 29, 2004


Big League Theatricals Non-Equity Tours - Major Issue For Actors’ Equity – Catalyst For Solidarity; Equity Council Prohibits Any Employment in Non-Equity Tours

NEW YORK, N.Y., Jan. 29th -- Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC) announced today they would jointly explore ways in which assistance can be given on issues important to both Unions. The key issue of concern for Actors’ Equity is the proliferation of non-Equity road tours and the SSDC issue is producers and theaters in both New York and other cities that do not sign SSDC contracts. As a result of this unprecedented show of solidarity, the Big League Theatricals’ non-Equity tour of AIDA has been cancelled.

Pamela Berlin, President of SSDC, Barbara Hauptman, Executive Director of SSDC, and members of the SSDC Executive Board attended the Equity Council meeting on January 20, 2004 at which Ms. Berlin announced that SSDC unanimously passed a resolution it “would stand behind Actors’ Equity that there should be no non-Equity tours.”

She further announced SSDC, which has always had a good relationship with Big League Theatricals, would not execute any contracts with the producer for its non-Equity tours of AIDA and 42ND STREET, unless Big League Theatricals signed contracts with Actors’ Equity Association. Actors’ Equity and Big League Theatricals were not able to reach an agreement for AIDA and presumably because of SSDC’s position, the tour was subsequently cancelled. Actors’ Equity has offered to meet with Big League Theatricals to discuss the 42ND STREET tour, but there has been no reply to date.

“This is a very important show of support for Actors’ Equity by SSDC,” said Alan Eisenberg, Executive Director of AEA. “We, in turn, will assist SSDC on a number of fronts where our united strength will help SSDC achieve its goals.”

The Equity Council passed its own resolution instructing AEA members that they can no longer accept employment in any production capacity (such as directors, choreographers, production supervisors etc) in Big League Theatrical productions. The Council also resolved that its members must not accept employment in any capacity in non-Equity shows produced by Troika and NETworks. “SSDC’s resolution is a strong show of solidarity and justifies our decision that our members must reject employment as directors and choreographers and other production department jobs,” said Patrick Quinn, President of AEA. “Our members cannot take these positions without serious consequences. This show of unified strength and support for each other will make the difference as we reverse the erosion of our respective jurisdictions.”

In the last decade, substantial changes have been made in how the theater does business and these changes have affected theatrical unions in general. Berlin stated: “SSDC and Actors’ Equity share a commitment to ensure that our members have a chance to make a living in the theater. SSDC and Actors’ Equity working together on this and other fronts is the most effective way to achieve this common goal.”

SSDC Executive Director Barbara Hauptman also agreed: “With the advent of large corporations in the theatrical arena and changes to touring productions among the many issues faced by SSDC and Actors’ Equity, our joint efforts will strengthen our members’ position in the industry.”

Both Actors’ Equity Association and Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers have national jurisdiction in the theatrical industry. Together, the Unions have more than 50,000 members who work on Broadway, on the road and in theaters across the country. The Unions are part of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG), an organization dedicated to the advancement of theater and its working members.


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