This November, writers and stagehands took to the streets, and musicians performed on picket lines in solidarity.
This is the first time the stagehands have struck in the union’s 121-year existence.
“Stagehands never get any direct appreciation for a job well done,” Broadway sub Tim Wendt told Allegro. “In many ways the stagehands are like lifeguards. You’re glad they’re on the job watching out for everybody, but you hope they never have to jump in to save someone.”
On the other side of the spectrum, the writers’ strike has affected musicians most by the shutdown of Saturday Night Live and the David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno shows.
The writers are striking over how big a piece of the ad revenue sales they earn when TV shows are broadcast on “new media,” like the Internet, cell phones and iPods. They’re also striking over how much they get paid when they write “Webisodes” or other content for new media.
“The AFM must voice 100 percent solidarity with the writers’ union in its demand for new media residuals,” saxophonist Bruce Kapler told Allegro. “This issue must be at the forefront of any new agreement for the musicians. Their fight is our fight.” Kapler is the saxophonist for the David Letterman band; he and his bandmates are currently out as a result of the writers’ strike.
“I think it’s important to stand with the writers and stagehands because we need to send the message that the people who help create the product are entitled to share in the growing profits from the product,” said Martha Hyde, a clarinetist and saxophonist who performs on Broadway.
“The writers are only asking for a tiny piece of the pie,” said keyboardist Jeremy Mage. “Musicians have to fight similar struggles over residuals and new media.”
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Additional photos by Claire Houston
Additional photos by Walter Karling