Three More Orchestras Ban the Machine

Virtual Orchestra Machine Not Welcome Off-Broadway

Volume CIV, No. 6June, 2004

Mary Donovan

Three more theatres have prohibited the use of the virtual orchestra machine.

The National Black Theatre , the Classic Stage Company and the Vineyard Theatre and Workshop Company have all agreed not to use the machine — and have put it in writing in new agreements with 802.

A one-year collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with the 125-seat National Black Theatre (Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, producer). The theatre is producing “Serenade The World,” the musical story of Oscar Brown, Jr.

The contract is the first that has been organized and negotiated with the National Black Theatre. Once the employers realized that musicians wanted to be covered by an 802 contract, they were willing to sit down with the union and bargain.

At the time of the talks, Local 802 was engaged in a battle over the use of the virtual orchestra machine at “The Joys of Sex.” Part of the discussion with this employer naturally turned to this issue and the union proposed a clause in the contract that would ban the use of the virtual orchestra machine for any of the employer’s productions.

Without the least hesitation, the company agreed.

The musicians in “Serenade the World” are Genovis Albright (music director/piano), Phil Young (drums), Bob Cunningham (bass) and Ann Belmont (guitar).


Two other theatres agreed to prohibit virtual orchestra machines in their productions. A three-year agreement was negotiated with the Classic Stage Company and the Vineyard Theatre and Workshop Company for all of their productions.

These theatres are prominent members of the Off Off Broadway Association of Nonprofit Theatre Companies (ANTC). Other members of ANTC include Atlantic, MCC, Primary Stages, Signature and Women’s Project and Productions.

Both companies previously had individual contracts with Local 802 that were due up at the same time.

In addition to negotiating standard terms and conditions, the union proposed a ban on the use of virtual orchestra machines. Again, without hesitation both agreed.

The two theatre companies are just around the corner from the Variety Arts where the union successfully won a 10-year prohibition on virtual orchestra machines.

For the other terms and conditions of all of the agreements discussed in this article, see Negotiations Roundup.