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Performance of the Century: 100 Years of Actors Equity Association and the Rise of Professional American Theater Hardcover – October 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Applause (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557838372
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557838377
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.8 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,042,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charles Grippo on December 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating and well written history of both Actors Equity Association (the collective bargaining agents for actors and stage managers) and 100 years of professional American theater. If you're a member of the audience or if you work in the theater, or if you're a history buff, PERFORMANCE OF THE CENTURY is a must-own tome.

Until 1919, actors in the American theater (including vaudeville) were at the mercy of their producers. They lacked a collective bargaining agent and most were powerless in their dealings with their employers. A producer could hire, fire, blacklist, exploit, and otherwise mistreat his performers who had no recourse and no one to fight for their rights. The American theater was run by powerful men, such as the Shuberts, the Theatrical Syndicate - six men who gave new meaning to the word "pirate" - and a handful of others. Even worse, many impresarios were fly-by-night con men, who frequently disappeared when payday came around. For instance, as a young vaudevillian, Groucho Marx was once left stranded and penniless in a dirty Colorado mining town when his producer took off without paying him. Groucho wound up sleeping in a stable and cleaning up after the horses in order to earn his train fare back to NYC. Producers forced actors to work ungodly hours without rest or meal breaks; they did not pay for rehearsal times; and they gave actors dressing rooms that were frequently not much more than outhouses. They gave not a whit about safety; if an actor got hurt while in the producer's employ, that was the actor's problem and the producer would simply replace him. As the labor movement took hold in other industries, actors decided that they, too, needed a union to protect them. And Actor's Equity was born.

But Equity was not born without a struggle.
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By Anne Fortuno on January 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is tremendously interesting and enjoyable. It's a great story and it's written smartly and with humor. The photos are wonderful ---- many I have never seen before. A must read for any theatre buff or history buff, but just as engrossing for anyone else who picks it up. It's chapters can stand alone if you are interested in say, the war years or theatre across the country. A great buy.
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I love this capsulization of the start and continued significance of Actors Equity Association (AEA)! It is an in depth examination of the importance of labor unions in the professional performing arts.
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The pages are filled with interesting info about the forming of one of the oldest acting associations in the USA. It's a must have for anyone interested in the theater.
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More About the Author

I write about cocktails, spirits, bars and bartenders, both past and present. I work primarily for the New York Times, but have also been published in Imbibe, Saveur, Lucky Peach, Wine Spectator, Whiskey Advocate, Edible (Manhattan, Brooklyn & East End), New York magazine and Eater.

Prior to my career as a liquor journalist, I wrote extensively about theatre for many years, for the New York Times, Variety, Time Out New York, The Village Voice and others. I was the editor of Playbill.com from 1998 to 2006. Playbill remains the sole outlet where I still write about theatre. I like to say that a career of theatregoing drove me to a second career in drinking.

I wrote four books about the theatre before publishing my first cocktail book, "The Old-Fashioned: The World's First Classic Cocktail," in May 2014 (Ten Speed Press). My next book will be "The Modern Classics," a cultural history of the modern cocktail renaissance.

A native of Wisconsin, I have lived in New York for more than 25 years--most of those years in Brooklyn--with my wife and son. My apartment is filled with bottles, and their number grow every day.

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Performance of the Century: 100 Years of Actors Equity Association and the Rise of Professional American Theater
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