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September 26, 2003


Actors, Local Labor Unions Protest Against The Use Of Non-Union Actors And Stage Managers in MISS SAIGON in Boston

Actors' Equity Association, the union representing 45,000 stage actors and stage managers, presented THE JOBLESS CHRONICLES, a rousing new musical about the plight of jobless Americans on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 in Boston. Free to the public, the 20-minute performance was staged on Ollis Street next to The Wang Center for the Performing Arts on the opening night of the non-Equity MISS SAIGON. THE JOBLESS CHRONICLES is part of an on-going campaign in response to the proliferation of non-Equity road tours.

Based on real life stories, the musical chronicles the lives of an 80-year old textile worker whose plant closed down; a laid-off steelworker; and a restaurant worker from Windows on the World who lost her job after September 11th. There are also fictionalized characters, one based on the plight of the non-Equity actors in the touring production of MISS SAIGON, currently at the Wang Center.

"We're presenting this musical to bring attention to an issue that all Americans are worried about today, and that is the precarious situations of jobs - whether it is looking for a job or facing possible unemployment," said Flora Stamatiades, Equity's National Director of Organizing and Special Projects.

The Union commissioned THE JOBLESS CHRONICLES because of the increasing number of non-Equity touring productions. These non-Equity productions greatly impact the work available for Equity actors, making it more difficult for them to find jobs. As workers, Equity members face the same crises as Americans everywhere - reduced work opportunities, the skyrocketing cost of health insurance and an unstable future. Additionally, the actors and stage managers in MISS SAIGON, produced by Big League Theatricals, are not represented by Actors' Equity Association, and are not receiving the fair wages and benefits they deserve. Though ticket prices for non-Equity shows are similar to Equity shows (topping out at $75 for non-Equity MISS SAIGON, compared to a top ticket price of $78 for the Equity touring production of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE ), the profits from these high ticket prices are not going into industry-standard wages and benefits.

Earlier in the week, Actors' Equity put up a picket line at the Wang Center loading dock. Honoring the picket line were Boston Teamsters Local 25, MISS SAIGON's traveling IATSE stagehands, and the IATSE Local 11 stagehands, as well as members of SAG (Screen Actors Guild), AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and the local area musicians of the AFM (American Federation of Musicians). The Union ceased the picket line at about 5:30 p.m. when the actors themselves began unloading the scenery and equipment. "Our concern for the actors' safety is paramount," said Stamatiades. "The producer should not put the actors in a situation where they could be injured." The picket line successfully held up the load-in for seven hours.

Throughout the week at the Wang Center, members of Actors' Equity continue to leaflet through Sunday, when MISS SAIGON closes.

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