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Statement from Actors’ Equity Association Regarding West Side Story on Their Opening Night

Statement from Actors’ Equity Association Regarding West Side Story on Their Opening Night

It seems West Side Story is turning more and more into Spiderman Turn Off The Dark. Actors’ Equity Association released the following statement this morning after a report in the New York Times that members of West Side Story have become concerned about safety and that the producers have retained a cybersecurity consultant to prevent online harassment.

Dharon E. Jones as Riff, Amar Ramasar  Photo by Jan Versweyveld

Also a nineteen year old is planning to protest over the casting of of Amar Ramasar as Bernardo. Ramasar, was a principal dancer with New York City Ballet and was fired from the company in 2018 after being accused of sharing explicit photos of female dancers without the women’s consent. After the dancer’s union challenged his firing, an arbitrator ordered him reinstated, continuing controversy.

From Actors’ Equity Association Executive Director Mary McColl:

“Everyone at West Side Story should be able to go to work and perform feeling safe and protected in their workplace. Equity has been in communication with the general manager and the members of the show. As a union, Equity’s role is to ensure that our members are protected in the workplace and we take that responsibility very seriously. Equity will continue to hold all employers to their legal obligation to maintain a safe and harassment-free environment. I want all members, wherever they might work, to know that they can contact their business representative whenever there is any kind of problem in the workplace, or use the Equity hotline to anonymously report problems in their workplace.”

Actors’ Equity has been working for years to ensure a safe and harassment-free workplace for all members, including instituting a hotline and adding stronger harassment prevention language in collective bargaining agreements. It has partnered with The Actors Fund to develop a program to help Equity staff assist its members and requires all Equity employers provide a copy of their own harassment policies to the union, as well as make those policies available to Equity members at the first rehearsal and throughout their employment under an Equity contract. Equity now has hundreds of policies on file as a resource for members. In 2018, Equity created the President’s Committee to Prevent Harassment, which was formed to recommend additional forward-looking strategies to prevent harassment and bullying in the theatre. In addition, Equity has adopted a Code of Conduct – for elected officials and rank-and-file members – that is read aloud at activities, events and meetings.Equity members can report unsafe work conditions, harassment and bullying in the workplace by calling their business representative or using an anonymous hotline that can be accessed by phone at 833-550-0030 or online at ActorsEquity.org/Safety.

Actors’ Equity, was founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its Members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org  #EquityWorks  

This should be one interesting opening night.

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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