Weavers of Dreams, Unite!
Actors' Unionism in Early Twentieth-Century America
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Illinois Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book has been many years in the making, and in the process of researching and writing it, I have accumulated many debts both inside and outside academia. I’d like to begin by thanking Howell John Harris at the University of Durham for sparking my interest in American labor history; ...
Introduction: Weavers of Dreams, Unite!
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Until quite recently, the history of the American theater was a neglected scholarly field. Though there were some fine overviews of the development of theatrical entertainment in the United States, relatively few works existed that set out to tackle the wider significance of the theater as a cultural institution. ...
1. The Great Text in Our Economy Today: The American Theater in an Age of Organization
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“Nearly every trade, profession, and occupation has its organization,” actor Frank Gillmore observed in a speech to the small and exclusively male group of performers, playwrights, and producers in attendance at the inception of the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) in early 1913. “Indeed,” he went on, “‘organization’ might be called the great text in our economy today.” ...
2. The Sock and Buskin or the Artisan's Biretta: Reconciling Art and Labor in the Actors' Equity Association, 1913–1919
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“This is not a revolution but a renaissance,” actor Wilton Lackaye assured the theatrical community in March 1913 in a statement setting out the objectives of the recently founded Actors’ Equity Association. “We simply wish to return to the spirit that existed prior to about five years ago when the relation between actor and manager was one of cooperation.”1 ...
3. All the World's a Stage!: The Actors' Strike of 1919
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For a group of workers whose sense of occupational distinctiveness hinged on their position in an increasingly unstable cultural hierarchy and who defined themselves in terms of a genteel individualism that was difficult to reconcile with collective action, the act of striking was fraught with problems. ...
4. Protecting the High-Minded Actor and the High-Minded Manager in Equal Part: Occupational Unionism in the American Theater Industry, 1919–1929
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On the rare occasions that scholars have turned their attention to the organizational impulse that animated the acting community in the early twentieth century, they have tended to assume that the actors’ strike of 1919 marked a point of closure—the moment when art was finally reconciled with labor.1 ...
5. For the Dignity and Honor of the Theatrical Profession: Respectability and Unrespectability in the Actors’ Equity Association, 1919–1929
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Though mediating the relationship between actors and their employers was central to the activities of the Actors’ Equity Association in its formative years, this was not its only function. Just as significant was its campaign to raise the status of acting as an occupation, a project that was entirely consonant with the principles of craft unionism ...
6. Ain't No Peace in the Family Now: The Actors' Equity Association and the Movies, 1919-1929
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In the view of cultural theorist Walter Benjamin, the social significance of film “is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspects, that is, the liquidation of the traditional cultural heritage.”1 For the American acting community, the advent of moving pictures brought destruction and catharsis in equal measure. ...
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In October 1929, less than two months after the rather undignified withdrawal of the Actors’ Equity Association from Hollywood, the Wall Street crash sounded the death knell for a theatrical economy that had already been fatally undermined by the cumulative effects of the decline of the road, overexpansion on Broadway, rising production costs, and competition from the talking pictures. ...
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About the Author, Production Notes, Back Cover
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Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013