Ok, I was wrong about the strike. I admit it. Now the fun part is trying to understand why.
I didn’t think there would be a Broadway stagehands strike because of the history of the two organizations at the crux of this confrontation.
What I failed to take into account is how the makeup of those organizations, especially The Broadway League, has changed over the past several years.
We forget that the theater industry is a young one. The modern theater is less than one hundred years old. The golden age of musicals ended less than 50 years ago, and some of the individuals that played such a crucial role in the birth of the business are still active players in the industry. But to quote a turkey from last year, the times are a changin’ . . . and I’m seeing a whole generation of these incredible leaders start to play less and less of a role in the day to day operations of the theater, as a new group of producers comes into their own. It’s the theater industry’s version of the “baby boomer” phenomenon.
The last three major negotiations have been more contentious than their previous years. Local 1 (strike), Local 802 (strike), AEA (no strike, but it resulted in a major restructuring of the touring market). This is not a coincidence. This is a result of these baby boomers getting in there and shaking things up. Which is exactly what’s needed.
And what else is different about these three negotiations? They are all post 9/11.
We live in a new theatrical economy now. The way we live changed significantly that day, and therefore the way we do business has to change with it. Whether we like it or not.