Actors' Equity Association, the union representing stage actors and stage managers, turns 100 years old in 2013. Shaped by the inequities visited on performers in the 19th century, the union has shaped the landscape of the professional American theater. Founded in 1913, it became a force to be reckoned with in an historic 1919 strike the most entertaining and dramatic one (naturally) the nation had ever seen. Since then, Equity has gone beyond securing the safety, health, and rights of stage actors, to become arguably the most progressive force in theater. It stared down not only obdurate producers, but segregation on and off the stage, the political hysteria of the blacklist years, and the challenge of the AIDS epidemic, its members forming what would become Equity Fights AIDS. It entertained the troops of several successive American wars and fostered the spread of stage culture across the land, from the government-fostered productions of the Depression-era Federal Theatre Project to the Equity Library Theatre, which offered the classics to the public at bargain prices. It oversaw the little theater movement's growth into the regional theater movement, and was there when Broadway begat Off-Broadway, and then Off-Off-Broadway. To read this resplendent new book, lavishly illustrated with historical images and stunning photographs, is to learn not only the union's glorious past, but that of American theater itself.
Publisher: Applause Books