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Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)

Actors’ Equity Association surfaced in the early years of the 20th century as a viable labor union for stage actors who had previously been at the mercy of management. Before Equity, as it became known, gained viability, standardized contracts were unheard of in American theater. Actors gave 8 to 10 performances a week and worked 52 weeks a year. They were expected to rehearse for as much as 3 months without pay. Actors were also required to furnish and care for their own costumes. On road tours, they paid their own hotel bills and transportation costs. Holidays and election week were peak seasons in the theater, and profits quickly mounted up. However, actors were required to work at half pay during those periods. In the ...

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