Strike Is Begun In Paris Theatres

News from Paris 88 years ago, found in The New York Times (October 18, 1920)

Actors and Stage Hands follow the Example of the Opera Personnel.
Actors Espouse the Cause of Young Playwrights, Who Say Managers Have Boycotted Them.

[Being a bit of an anarcho-syndicalist at heart, I find the French tradition of strikes somehow endearing and encouraging. Here in Scandinavia, workers on all levels tend to take their rights for granted, and do not always realize that they are the result of blood, sweat and tears of many generations before us.]

The decision to strike was take at a secret meeting of the State Federation Committee yesterday, but it was then too late to put it into operation at more than one or two theatres. At one, the Dejazet Theatre, notice was received early, and the curtain never rose. The audience waited for a quarter of an hour and then became impatient. Behind the scenes hot discussion and argument were going on, and, seeing that there was no other way out of the difficulty, the manager announced to the audience that there would be no performance and that money would be returned at the door.

[One can only imagine the response he got from an average crowd of disappointed Parisians. Of course, the drawback of striking is the public inconvenience, which is (in France's case) almost proverbial in Europe.]

At the Cluny Theatre matters were more advanced when the strike began. The play was in the middle of the second act when the order was received, and at one, disregarding the audience entirely, actors, stage hands and the whole personnel decided to quit the theatre. Immediately the curtain was rung down, and for some minutes the audience was left wondering what had happened. Soont he playgoers grew restless [...] Men brandished their sticks at the stage, on which the manager stood alone trying to explain what had happened, and the shrill criticism of women deprived of their pleasure drowned his words. It needed several police officers and a speech from the Police Commissioner to clear the theatre, and some actors and actresses were subjected to a good deal of rough treatment.

[Oh lala, "shrill" women deprived of their "pleasure"... can't have that, can we? This was a strike in support of a union of authors, which had been treated unfairly by the leading organization of dramatic authors, probably an older, guild-like organization. Andy would approve this kind of solidarity between unions. I wonder if he would try to persuade Mayann and Lou to join the strike. He certainly wishes that they would join a union, maybe the IWW, where all kinds of workers are welcome, or start their own.]

1 comment:

PIGNOUF said...

Que vivent les syndicats
A bientôt...:)