The Playgoer: "What About The Children! Will Someone Please Think of the Children!"

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Monday, November 12, 2007

"What About The Children! Will Someone Please Think of the Children!"

Well I wish I could say I was on sympathy strike, but truly just took Sunday off and had too busy a Monday to follow the story.

Hopefully I'll be back to blogging Tuesday. Meanwhile, I just want to point out something funny about the press coverage of the strike.

Remember how a few weeks ago we heard from the producers' side some ominous pronouncement about stagehands being haunted by disappointed tourists and the bitter tears of their children if they dare not let the show go on?

Well guess what the news was all weekend? Crying children and "disappointed" tourists! I say "disappointed" since the word seems to appear on cue, repeatedly, in all the articles. Articles which seem to have no other point than some tourists are..."disappointed."

For a video taste check out the NY1 story that aired Saturday. "This is one experience some of these children will never have again," says one interviewee. "Some of them will never even be even get to be in New York City ever again and see a Broadway show." Funny, you'd never know there are actually eight of those once-in-a-lifetime Broadway shows still running--just not The Grinch. Oh, by the way, just for balance....the Grinch producer is interviewed, too. But no stagehands or union reps.

(Today's NY1 story is here.)

My favorite quote was from an Irish woman who seemed only mildly fazed over not seeing Mama Mia as planned. "Perhaps I'll get to see it here after all. Perhaps I'll see it in Ireland" Indeed, I'm sure she will have that choice.

My beef is not that I hate crying children or tourists who plan their entire trip (and spend billions I may add) around 4 tickets to Grease. But only that these initial stories showed no other side. For instance--not one stagehand or union rep interviewed. That's all I ask. Standard journalistic "balance." So that the not so hidden message doesn't become: Stagehands want to kill your children.

Or something like that.

And it just is a little weird the story played out just as the League wanted. I'm not saying the press is that obviously in collusion, though. Just that they could not resist playing the sentimental angle, even when it did nothing to enlighten readers (including said disappointed ones) as to why there is a strike. Other than that evil stagehands want to kill children, of course.

Ok, how about: too lazy to stop their greedy union bosses from making children cry?

Anyway, it was good to see the Times make some redress today with, finally, the picketer's perspective. (Or at least some quotes from them.)*

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with some links to those who are keeping up with this and offering some alternative perspectives.

For the view from the frontlines, two stagehand blogs--thankfully referred to me in the Comments: Humble Nailbanger and One NYC Stagehand.

And for another "regular" blogger, that SOB Steve On Broadway. (his epithet, not mine)

Oh, and in case it's not clear yet: I'm with the stagehands, not the producers. And not ashamed. I'll explain more why in a future post....If it's the other side you want, stay with the MSM.

*CORRECTION: The Times article I meant to link to was this (from Sunday's Metro section) which does actually give the union their say.


Anonymous said...

it seems that both sides are being unimaginative here...

it's clear that the costs of broadway production are a huge barrier to variety and experiment. at the same time, stagehands need to make a decent living.

maybe the answer is to make the initial production as low-cost all round as possible, with the proviso that, as soon as the production recoups, there are substantial residuals paid to everyone initially involved - and that continue as long as the show runs. this way the long-running shows will subsidise, to a degree, the more experimental work...

One NYC StageHand said...

And this is why Local One does not negotiate in the press. We see the media work up close on a regular basis. Some of us even split our time between Bway and television. How many shows have we read the reviews of and wondered what theatre that reviewer was in? It sure didn’t seem like the show I’ve just worked months on. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Powerful Reviewer had a “heavy dinner” and fell asleep for Act II and then wrote a pan. People don’t pay to watch scene changes and stagehands don’t expect to get a fair shake in the press. We don’t spend millions on advertising space and we suspect that just may have an influence on what is written.
We are part of organized labor and don’t expect our stories to be told. If you examine the proposals and the style of negotiation you can see that this isn’t really being driven by the financials. Typically we propose and they counter propose and you end up somewhere in the middle. That’s business. This is driven by an ideology, the theology of profit.

PeonInChief said...

Oh, please! When we went to NYC last year, we attended a play. We also did a whole lot of other things. Had the strike been on when we were in New York, I would have been disappointed. I would have hoped that it would have been settled before I left. But it wouldn't have ruined the whole trip for me. That kind of thing is just silliness.