In the wake of reported abuse allegations against Scott Rudin and the producer’s subsequent announcement that he’d “step back” from his shows, an April 22 “March on Broadway” will rally for proper accountability and safe work environments moving forward in the theatre industry. The event (originally scheduled April 21 but changed due to weather forecasts), is organized by Nattalyee Randall and Courtney Daniels and demands action not just from the Broadway League and Rudin himself but also Actors’ Equity Association, calling for transparency on the union’s part on active steps to ensure equity for BIPOC artists and other underrepresented communities.
The organizers' demands began rolling out April 15 and have evolved in the days following based on dialogues with fellow arts workers. For instance, the initial request—that Rudin be placed on Equity’s “Do Not Work” list—now calls for the producer to be removed from the Broadway League (effectively preventing him from producing on Broadway) or provide restorations in the form of donations to BIPOC-led theatre companies. The change followed discussions with Equity council members on the union’s leverage in such matters. (Read the six demands, as shared with Playbill, in full below.)
“We do not want this to be actors versus the union; we do want the union to do its job and keep us safe,” Randall and Daniels said.
“We’re not trying to bulldoze into a situation,” Jaime Cepero, a fellow organizer who is slated to speak at the march, tells Playbill. “This is about having a community conversation and doing this together. At the end of the day, this is about having a safe workspace.” The group’s intersectional missions also include greater representation for trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming artists as well as those with differing abilities. The need for a conversation echoes the sentiment on display in the hashtag campaigns #NoNewsNoDues and #NoPlanNoDues, which sprouted upon Equity’s requests for membership fees in Month 13 of the theatre shutdown caused by the pandemic.
In line with championing open dialogue, Randall and Daniels have arranged for multiple forums via Instagram Live to encourage community input and address concerns. The next will take place April 19 at 9 PM, hosted on the account for Broadway for Racial Justice (that collective’s founder, Brandon Michael Nase, will also be present at the march on April 22).
In addition to Randall, Daniels, Nase, and Cepero, the event’s roster of scheduled speakers includes Eden Espinosa (who co-founded the organization Artists for Economic Transparency with Karen Olivo), artist-activist and Our Offering creator Sis, Paige Levy (who previously co-organized a protest of Rudin’s West Side Story revival over the casting of Amar Ramasar), and Broadway alums Ryan Vasquez, James Pierce III, Diamond Essence White, and Ashley De La Rosa.
Following a 1 PM demonstration at Columbus Circle—which organizers say will include an ASL interpreter—the march route will reach Equity’s offices and the IAC headquarters of Rudin’s frequent producing partner Barry Diller before ending in Washington Square Park. The organizers ask that participants wear black shirts: “to black out Broadway.”
March on Broadway Demands
1. Scott Rudin to be removed from the Broadway League - If he is not removed from the Broadway League, we want restoration. We want Scott to publicly choose 20 BIPOC run theatres and donate a LARGE SUM of money to them.
2. A full list of organizations that AEA is working with to help Black, Indigenous, and POC feel safer.
3. A full report of how the 2020 Equity dues were spent and what percentage is being spent to help conversations around diversity.
4. Achieve greater inclusion for trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming artists.
5. We want visibility on how the national council votes for policies. We also want efforts to improve diversity within the council.
6. We want to achieve greater inclusion for artists with visible and nonvisible differing abilities.