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Broadway strike halts production on 'developing' shows

The Actors' Equity Association is seeking pay raises for performers who take part in the Lab Agreement.

Broadway's "Mean Girls" is one of many productions

Broadway's "Mean Girls" is one of many productions that used the Lab Agreement that is at the core of the Actors' Equity Association's strike. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Theater artists and stage managers went on strike Monday, effectively halting work on Broadway shows that are in the development process.

The Actors’ Equity Association said salaries for performers who take part in the Lab Agreement, which is used to develop plays and musicals, have been frozen for a dozen years despite record box office profits. The union and the  Broadway League have been in talks to renegotiate Lab Agreement contracts for the last two years, but Actors' Equity said the league has not agreed to their calls for salary raises or profit-sharing after productions premiere. 

"It’s unconscionable that Equity members who go to work developing some of the biggest hits on Broadway have gone more than a decade without a raise, especially when we regularly read about many of those same shows smashing box office records and generating billions of dollars in revenue,”  Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement.

Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, said she is planning to bring the union back to the negotiating table soon in hopes of reaching an agreement. 

"We fully expect to get a deal, we’ve been negotiating in good faith," she said. "At the end of the day [the actors] are important to our process." 

As part of the strike's rules, Lab Agreement, Workshop Agreement, Staged Reading Contract and Stage Reading guidelines will be placed on the Actors' Equity's "Do Not Work" list.

The union said one in four Broadway shows use the Lab Agreement to develop their productions. The process has been used 75 times since 2016, and roughly 51 percent of those labs went on to further production, according to Actors Equity. "Frozen" and "Mean Girls" are some of the recent productions that used Lab Agreement.

The union has been vocal about the issue since November when it launched its social media campaign "#notalabrat." Big name Broadway stars, such as Audra McDonald and Patti Martin, have taken part in the campaign on their social media platforms. 

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