Performance of the Century: 100 Years of Actors' Equity Association and the Rise of Professional American Theater. Written by Robert Simonson. Published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Book. Hardcover, 240 pages. Measures 9 by 12 inches.
Performance of the Century celebrates the 100th anniversary of Actors' Equity Association, the union representing stage actors and stage managers. Formed as a result of the inequities visited on stage performers in the 19th century, the union has shaped the landscape of the professional American theater. Founded in 1913, it became a force to be reckoned with in an historic 1919 strike � the most entertaining and dramatic one (naturally) the nation had ever seen.
Since then, Equity has gone beyond securing the safety, health, and rights of stage actors, to become arguably the most progressive force in theater. It stared down not only obdurate producers, but segregation - on and off the stage, the political hysteria of the blacklist years, and the challenge of the AIDS epidemic, its members forming what would become Equity Fights AIDS. It entertained the troops of several successive American wars and fostered the spread of stage culture across the land, from the government-fostered productions of the Depression-era Federal Theatre Project to the Equity Library Theatre, which offered the classics to the public at bargain prices. It oversaw the little theater movement's growth into the regional theater movement, and was there when Broadway begat Off-Broadway, and then Off-Off-Broadway.
To read this resplendent new book, lavishly illustrated with historical images and stunning photographs, is to learn not only the union's glorious past, but that of American theater itself.
"Perfect for history buffs." - David Cote, TIME OUT NEW YORK Holiday Gift Guide 2012
"Spectacular!" - Michael Portantiere, BROADWAY STARS RADIO
"Performance of the Century is a handsome and finely researched project, as entertaining as it is informative." - Howard Shapiro, WWFM CLASSICAL RADIO NETWORK
"Each page brings some wonderful history to light." - Jacqueline Cutler, New Jersey Star-Ledger
"A fascinating, entertaining look at how and why the organization came to be." - Anthony Del Valle, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
"Crammed with great archival pics and dramatic goings on off-stage. Makes for fun reading and lively discussions among those who love theater, and it's a great overview for newbies, too." � Frank Rizzo, Hartford Courant