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Actors' Equity 2005 "The Show Must Go On"
Hurrican Katrina hits New Orleans

January 1

As the New Year begins, The U.S. engagement in Iraq continues amid that country's continued violence and instability.

January 24 - 28

Equity begins negotiations with the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) for a new agreement. Executive Director Alan Eisenberg leads the negotiating team, saying, "Our primary goal is to achieve a substantial increase in health fund contributions." LORT contract generated 55,270 workweeks for Equity members in 2003-2004.

January 20

George W. Bush is inaugurated for his second term as the 43rd President of the United States.

February 4

Ossie Davis

Ossie Davis
Courtesy, Equity News

The theatre world is dimmer today as Ossie Davis passes away at the age of 87, just two months after receiving the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. An actor, director, playwright and activist, Davis and his wife Ruby Dee were deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement. "Ossie called Actors' Equity the heart, soul and conscience of Broadway," says Alan Eisenberg, "I think Ossie was really the heart, soul and conscience of Equity." Mr. Davis and Ms. Dee received Equity's Paul Robeson award in 1975.

February 10

"The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life." Arthur Miller passes away at the age of 89.

February 14

YouTube Be sure to record your feelings this Valentine's Day! YouTube is founded!

February 15

Alan Eisenberg

Alan Eisenberg

"Cats may hold the record for the longest running show on Broadway, but in our eyes, Alan will always hold that title..." So says President Patrick Quinn after announcing Alan Eisenberg's retirement. After serving for 25 years as Equity's Executive Director, Eisenberg announces that he will leave his post when his contract expires in 2006. His tenure has been the longest in Equity history.


Negotiations with LORT continue; the contract is extended to March 6th. On the table for Equity: increasing health care contribution rate paid by LORT theatres. For LORT: the need for more flexibility in marketing shows and creating new work.

AIDA becomes the first national tour using the Experimental Touring Program under the new Production Contract.

After what Alan Eisenberg called a "tough negotiation," Equity reaches a tentative agreement with LORT for a three year contract. Health contributions are significantly increased; for the first time, LORT will now pay health contributions in the same range as other major agreements. Equity council will recommend the new agreement in April.

2005 LORT negotiating team
Equity's 2005 LORT negotiating team

March 12

Equity President Patrick Quinn receives the Edwin Forrest Award for his contributions to American Theatre.

April 2

Pope John Paul II dies. In ten days, he is succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI.

April 11

Creativity & Artists with Disabilities, a forum exploring ways to improve job opportunities for performing artists and broadcasters, is held in New York City. Equity is co-sponsor of the event, along with AFTRA, SAG and other performing arts organizations.

Creativity & Artists with Disabilities

Participants at the forum include (Back L-R): Pamela Sabaugh, Anita Hollander, Darren Frazier, Adisa Olubayo-Bankole, Candace Broecker-Penn , Alex Friedman; Front L-R: Christine Bruno, Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, Mark Hammer

April 12

Equity signs a new one-year agreement with the Statue of Liberty. Well, not with the statue itself, but with the Foundation that runs the performances of Remember the Dream, the 20 minute presentation about immigrants who came through Ellis Island.

May 9

The New York Labor History Association presents "Broadway and the Black List," a panel discussing Equity's response to blacklisting in the 1950s. Equity co-sponsors the event.

May 9

Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

Jacobs Theatre
Photo: Walter McBride

On Broadway, the Royale is renamed the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, and the Plymouth is renamed the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Both houses are named for longtime lawyers of the Shubert Organization; Jacobs was President from 1972 until his death in 1996. Schoenfeld is the current chairman.

The 40 year old reign of terror (according to many!) is over! John Simon is no longer the theatre critic at New York magazine. Actors sleep a little easier tonight.

May 15-16

For the first time since 1999, Equity Councillors, Board Members, Senior Staff and 22 Area Liaisons from across the U.S. gather in New York for an intensive two-day working session. Agenda includes organizing member outreach and education, communication and the state of the Pension and Health funds and the eternal question of possible mergers between unions.

June 5

The big winners at this year's Tony® Awards are the Monty Python musical Spamalot and the play Doubt by John Patrick Shanley. This is the first year that the Costume, Scenic, and Lighting awards are divided into plays and musicals. Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis wins the Regional Theatre award.

June 6

Equity President Patrick Quinn is honored at the Working Theatre's 20th anniversary Awards for bridging the gap between the "Arts, Labor and the Community."

July 8

It's the end of a delicious era as the Howard Johnson's restaurant in Times Square closes after 46 years.

July 14

The show must go on! In the midst of its 50th Anniversary season, the North Shore Music Theatre, New England's largest non-profit theatre company, suffers a devastating fire on the opening night of Cinderella, causing an estimated $3 million dollars in damage. The fire forces the theatre to cancel the run of Cinderella and relocate two productions to Boston. All Anniversary Gala celebrations are also cancelled. Under the extraordinary leadership of Artistic Director, Jon Kimbell, the company quickly rebuilds its facility and re-opens with a production of The Full Monty on November 1, just 111 days after the fire.

Photo courtesy of North Shore Music Theatre - Designed by Mike Ceceri

August 11

Carl Harms

Carl Harms

Carl Harms, actor, puppeteer, Councillor Emeritus, Trustee of the Pension Health Trust Funds and President of the Actors' Equity Foundation, dies at the age of 94. "Equity is a stronger, better union because of the many contributions Carl Harms has made to this organization," says Alan Eisenberg. Harms will receive Equity's Paul Robeson award posthumously on October 7th.

August 29th

Equity responds with quick assistance after New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities are slammed by Hurricane Katrina. $10,000 is donated to the Actors' Fund, earmarked for members in affected areas and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS gives two donations totaling $350,000 for relief efforts and to help AIDS and family service organizations. Actors throughout the country hold curtain call fundraisers and benefits.

Many theatres are severely damaged or must close because actors have left the city. But, as clichéd as it sounds, the show must go on. Sonny Borey, artistic/executive director for Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré says, "the city needs enjoyment, laughter and music. That's the only way New Orleans will begin to glow again."

October 2

August Wilson

August Wilson

Playwright August Wilson dies at the age of 60. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his plays Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990), Wilson created a ten play cycle exploring the African American experience through each decade of the 20th century. This year, Broadway's Virginia Theatre was renamed the August Wilson Theatre.

Patrick Quinn and Meegan Midkiff

Patrick Quinn and Meegan Midkiff

Meegan Midkiff and Nick Verina are the first recipients of the new Roger Sturtevant Award. Named after casting director Roger Sturtevant, the award will be given to notable Equity Membership Candidates.

You look so young for your age! Playwrights Horizons opens its 35th season in New York City! The Drama Desk celebrates is 50th Anniversary! NYC's Public Theatre is 50 this year! Huzzah!

December 31

Feel like you've got more time on your hands? Another second is added, called a "leap second" to the end of 2005!

  Next 2006......

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