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 Post subject: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2002 4:50 am 
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I hesitated putting this in, as you can see it's a few days old, since it is not about dance. However, it could have implications for dance - or could it?

From the Los Angeles Times:

A British Protest of a U.S. Invasion
Theater Actors union lashes out after National Theatre follows trend of giving lead roles to Hollywood stars.


By DAVID GRITTEN, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Quote:
LONDON -- This has been a big year for Hollywood stars in Britain's theater, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Matt Damon and Woody Harrelson among American film actors taking lead roles in West End plays here.

But Equity, the British actors' union, has decided that enough is enough and has lashed out at the frequent practice of giving starring parts to American actors at a time when 80% of its membership is out of work.
MORE...


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 Post subject: Re: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2002 5:18 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I'm happy that you have put it up Basheva, but I might take the liberty of transferring the topic to our "UK news and issues" forum as the central focus is the National Theatre.

Regarding the problems for the theatre world, this has been going on for sometime. One key sentence is:

"When the National wanted to transfer its production of "Oklahoma!" to New York, with its original cast intact, most members were prevented from working in the U.S. These included Maureen Lipman, who played Aunt Eller. Lipman, a comic actress, author and TV personality, is a household name in Britain but is virtually unknown in America."

My impression is that the US unions have been much stricter than those in the UK. Note that Equity has protested at the National Theatre action, but has not sought to mount a boycott.

For myself it seems to me that it is mightyt difficult to get people to go the Theatre at the moment in London and if big name US stars can do it then it is good for the art form.

Regarding dance, I suspect that it won't have much impact. My impression is that few UK dancers outside of the major UK companies are Equity members so the Union has little sway in this area. I have not heard of UK companies like Random being stopped from visiting the US.

Overall I hope the unions on both side of the Atlantic can resolve this long-standing problem quickly and that it does not spill over into dance.

What do others think?

<small>[ 09-01-2002, 07:20: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2002 6:11 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
Originally posted by Stuart Sweeney:
My impression is that the US unions have been much stricter than those in the UK.
The impression here in the colonies is just the opposite; for years, it's seemed that British actors have had the run of the place.

The problem isn't just with actors; it's been progressively more and more difficult for American playwrights, composers, and lyricists to get their original works produced on Broadway. Expenses being what they are, producers are opting for the relative safety of reviving shows from past eras, producing plays derived from films, or bringing over proven hits from (you guessed it) the UK.

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 Post subject: Re: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2002 1:29 pm 
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
I am not so sure about the whole union thing. Is it two separate governing bodies for stage actors then film?? And it is probably my own ignorance rearing its ugly head but I always thought it was the agents' abilities or lack there of, to get them more work in the US.

British actors such as, Alan Rickman, Ian McCellan, Patrick Stewart, Heath Ledger, Christian Bales, Kenneth Bragnaugh, Sean Bean, Ewan McGregor, and lets not forget Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe (ok, ok, they are both Austrailians but ...) have been in tons of very sucessful films and most of them household names here in the US, I think (or it could be that I am a bit of a movie nerd) ;) .

So I have to wonder if it is really a union thing in particular to the theater or is it agents' lack of abilities to make the necessary contacts in the US?!

OK sorry, I couldn't relate it to dance at all.


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 Post subject: Re: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2002 3:25 am 
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Here in the US (and I believe in the UK as well) there are a myriad of performers' unions.

Actors are primarily protected by Actors' Equity (stage) and the Screen Actors Guild (film and television). Those dancers who are union members are protected, usually, by AGMA (Associated Guild of Musical Artists) or, less frequently, by AGVA Associated Guild of Variety Artists).

In our "Managing Dance" forum, we had a thread on Unions and the Arts

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 Post subject: Re: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2002 3:26 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Here in the US (and I believe in the UK as well) there are a myriad of performers' unions.

Actors are primarily protected by Actors' Equity (stage) and the Screen Actors Guild (film and television). Those dancers who are union members are protected, usually, by AGMA (Associated Guild of Musical Artists) or, less frequently, by AGVA Associated Guild of Variety Artists).

In our "Managing Dance" forum, we had a thread on Unions and the Arts

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Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
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http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject: Re: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 5:07 am 
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As a Brit, I have to say that I find it a bit annoying that Hollywood is where all the films tend to be made these days (at least the ones you HEAR about!) - it means that we are bombarded with the American perspective on life, and rarely get to see films that we can indentify with - rare exception being films like "The Full Monty" which are quite few and far between. It also annoys me a bit that British actors/writers/directors all desert the UK to go to Hollywood as there is no work here for them. But that's because we don't have much of a film industry.

People like Alan Rickman, Sir Ian McKellan, Dame Maggi Smith, Dame Judi Dench are our biggest assets and luckily none of them have totally deserted this country - although they do appear on Broadway and in Hollywood films, they still do a fair bit of work here - what little work there is.

I was actually glad to see that the new Harry Potter films have an all British cast - not because I an in any way against American actors or anything but because I was so glad to see that books written by a British author were getting filmed with a British cast! I made it more "real" for me.

But I think that it is a problem that the British Government has to solve. If Britain had its own film industry and a decent theatre industry, there would be no need for so many of our talented actors to go to Hollywood, there would be no need to fill British cinemas with Hollywood films and British actors could become big "stars" instead of the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon.

After all, look at what Bollywood has done in India! The biggest films stars in India are Indian!

The ball is in the British Government's court to start *funding* the arts for a change.


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 Post subject: Re: A British Protest......
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2002 4:24 am 
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I agree with Stuart, my impression is that the American Unions have taken a stronger line on British performers working on Broadway, than the British have on American artists working in the West End. I think though, one of the main objections here is that the National Theatre is not the West End, and receives public subsidy. Therefore British performers should be more favoured. That is Equity's view, I think, although not my own.

I was interested by the comment that outside of the major companies, you thought most dancers were not members of Equity? Until the laws were changed on Union membership (the 80s I think) every dancer that worked professionally in Britain had to belong to Equity. Although this rule no longer applies, I would be surprised if most of the dancers in West End shows were not members of the Union, and any work on TV, film, video, etc., the same. But am I wrong?

Salzberg...there is only one union for dancers, actors, singers, et al, in Britain: British Actors Equity (I think they have now dropped, recently, the "actor" bit) unlike the USA.

The rules for foreign artists working in America in the 1970s were strict, and I should not think they are much different now. Assuming the artist did not have a Green Card, the employer had to apply for a work permit, which was not easily obtained. If the artist left the employers employ, or the contract was terminated, the artist had one month to leave the country before their presence became illegal. Probably, something similar applied in Britain.

I think it should be made easier for artists to work abroad in whatever country. A Utopian ideal, I guess.

<small>[ 10-29-2002, 06:34: Message edited by: Simon R B ]</small>


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