Broadway Actors Strike Over Profit-Sharing Impasse | Modern Society of USA

Broadway Actors Strike Over Profit-Sharing Impasse

Broadway Actors Strike Over Profit-Sharing Impasse

The theater actors’ union said on Monday that it was barring its members from taking part in developmental work on Broadway shows while it demands a new contract that includes some profit-sharing.

The union, Actors’ Equity, called the action a strike, and said it would take effect immediately, preventing its members from working on developmental labs, workshops and staged readings. About a quarter of all Broadway shows use developmental labs to test out material, and there are several labs scheduled in coming months that will not take place unless the dispute is settled.

“No union wants to get to this point, but we feel strongly because our members feel strongly,” Kate Shindle, the union president, said. “Our members who do this work don’t think the terms are fair.”

The Broadway League, representing producers, said it was still hopeful that the dispute would be resolved. “The Broadway League has been negotiating in good faith over multiple sessions and there are additional proposals to make,” the trade group said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our respectful dialogue with the union and are confident that we will reach a fair agreement that will be beneficial to both sides.”

There are at least four developmental labs that had been scheduled to take place in coming weeks, for stage adaptations of the films “Almost Famous” and “August Rush” and for jukebox musicals adapted from the catalogs of Michael Jackson and Huey Lewis. The Huey Lewis musical, called “Heart of Rock & Roll,” held auditions on Monday for a lab scheduled to begin late next month; Equity said the auditions took place as scheduled, but that any of its members who receive offers would be barred from participating in the lab without a settlement.

Developmental labs generally last four weeks and involve performers and creators in a rehearsal room, working on dialogue, scenes, songs and dances. Recent productions that have used labs include “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Cher Show” and “Hello, Dolly!”

Currently actors are paid about $1,000 a week for participating. The union is seeking not only a salary increase, but also a new provision requiring the handful of shows that make it to Broadway and succeed in recouping their capitalization costs to share 1 percent of their profits with actors and stage managers who were part of the show’s early development.

“Ultimately we’re all hoping to get to a deal, but we’ve heard loud and clear from our members that the conditions and terms under which they’ve been working don’t reflect their contributions,” Ms. Shindle said.

The League has said it believes that profit-sharing should be decided by individual producers, not collectively; some producers, including those behind “Frozen” and “Mean Girls,” have voluntarily agreed to share profits with participants in developmental labs.

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