Actors' Equity Celebrates 100 Years

December 12, 2012 9:12 AM

Actors' Equity Celebrates 100 Years

" The century-long history of Actors’ Equity, the union representing stage actors and stage managers, is being honored in a new hardcover book by one of the country’s most highly regarded theater scribes.

In "Performance of the Century," Robert Simonson, a longtime writer for Playbill and other publications, recounts the union’s involvement in a historic 1919 strike and the turmoil of the blacklist years, and later the challenge of the AIDS epidemic, when its members formed what would become Equity Fights AIDS.

In a recent interview with Backstage, Simonson talked about a moment performers remember their entire lives -- receiving their Equity Card, proof of membership in the union -- and said aspiring actors would benefit by learning more about the history of the union, which numbers 48,000 members. 

"Perhaps they’ve never actually sat down and thought how improbable it is that there is even an actor’s union," said Simonson, who notes that we associate unions with blue collar labor more than “elective” professions, such as acting "

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