Actors’ Equity Association and David E. Talbert Presents (David E. Talbert, producer) have successfully negotiated the ground breaking Urban Broadway Series Contract. This contract will be used for Talbert-produced tours on what is considered the urban circuit and is the first contract of its kind to embrace this important, influential and growing theater market.
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Based on Equity’s Short Engagement Touring Agreement, The Urban Broadway Contract acknowledges the unique aspects of the urban circuit which includes one night and split week performance schedules, substantially lower ticket prices and a different guarantee package than other tours. The Contract offers competitive salaries, health and pension benefits and work rules for the actors and stage managers in these productions. While Mr. Talbert, who also writes and directs his productions, has always provided similar employment packages, the signing of this Agreement with Equity formalizes the business model and is an important first step in bringing shows that play the circuit under the imprimatur of the Union.
The first Talbert production to utilize the Urban Broadway Contract is WHAT MY HUSBAND DOESN’T KNOW, a contemporary drama about a kept woman torn between her husband and her lover. It stars Morris Chestnut, Michelle Williams, Ann Nesby and Clifton Davis and will tour to more than 20 cities through November.
In signing the agreement, Mr. Talbert said, “ I’ve always wanted to create an opportunity in which I could work with so many wonderful Equity performers and still recognize the importance of the circuit and the audiences who see my shows. By acknowledging the varied aspects of our touring business and the caliber of our performers, this contract bridges the best of both worlds. And happily, we will continue to make the kind of theater that mirrors and celebrates the lives of everyday people.”
“This first agreement between Equity and David E. Talbert will hopefully set a standard for contracts in Urban Broadway productions, just as David’s shows set a standard of quality,” said Flora Stamatiades, Equity’s National Director of Organizing and Special Projects. “We are excited to have these new opportunities available for our members of color, and hope that other Producers will follow David’s lead.”
The urban circuit originally began in the early 1900’s when African American performers were barred from working at white theaters, staying at white hotels and eating at white restaurants. A touring circuit sprang up, taking black performers across the country and launching careers of artists such as Ethel Waters, Ma Rainey and Sammy Davis Jr. The popularity of the circuit faded in the 1960’s and saw a rebirth in the 1980’s with plays like MAMA I WANT TO SING. Today, plays and musicals on the urban circuit reach more than 1.5 million theater goers annually and play some of the biggest and most popular theaters across the country.
Founded in 1913, Equity represents more than 49,000 professional stage actors and stage managers in the United States. Equity seeks to advance, promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions, providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Equity is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions.
David E. Talbert wrote and staged his first play TELLIN IT LIKE IT TIZ in 1991. In the twenty years since he burst onto the theater scene, Talbert has continued to write, direct and produce 13 works for the stage under the auspices of his company, David E. Talbert Presents. In addition to TELLIN IT LIKE IT TIZ, Talbert has staged LOVE IN THE NICK OF TYME, MR. RIGHT NOW, THE FABRIC OF MAN and HE SAY SHE SAY… BUT WHAT DOES GOD SAY, among others. Taking his vision and his company beyond the theater, Talbert has written and directed for film and television. He made his directorial debut with Sony Picture’s FIRST SUNDAY starring Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan and Katt Williams and wrote and produced the NBC special JAMIE FOXX: UNPREDICTABLE. Through his production company, Talbert has also starred in his own reality television series STAGE BLACK on TV ONE, providing a behind the scenes look into the world of touring theatre as contestants sang, danced and acted in hopes of starring in a David E. Talbert Presents production. Adding to his impressive resume, Talbert has also authored several novels, including the Essence Best-seller BAGGAGE CLAIM and LOVE DON’T LIVE HERE NO MORE, co-authored with hip hop icon Snoop Dogg. Mr. Talbert is a 5-time NAACP award-winning playwright and in 2009 received the prestigious NAACP Trailblazer award for his groundbreaking accomplishments in theater.