Weavers of Dreams, Unite!

Weavers of Dreams, Unite! : Actors' Unionism in Early Twentieth-Century America

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Published to coincide with the centenary of the founding of the Actors' Equity Association in 1913, Weavers of Dreams, Unite! explores the history of actors' unionism in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the onset of the Great Depression. Drawing upon hitherto untapped archival resources in New York and Los Angeles, Sean P. Holmes documents how American stage actors used trade unionism to construct for themselves an occupational identity that foregrounded both their artistry and their respectability. In the process, he paints a vivid picture of life on the theatrical shop floor in an era in which economic, cultural, and technological changes were transforming the nature of acting as work. The engaging study offers important insights into the nature of cultural production in the early twentieth century, the role of class in the construction of cultural hierarchy, and the special problems that unionization posed for workers in the commercial entertainment industry.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 154 x 234 x 24mm | 419.99g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 8 black and white photographs
  • 0252037480
  • 9780252037481
  • 2,037,126

Review quote

"With his attention to actors as both producers and embodiments of what they produce, the unique gender dynamics of theater as workplace, and the structure of the theater industry, Holmes has done a great job of writing the history of a union that challenges conventional labor history understandings of unionism and extends the scope of American theater history."--Journal of American History "The book entertains as much as it educates. . . . a superlative read."--Journal of American Studies "A very rich study... For labor educators and union organizers, Holmes' excellent book could be used to begin new conversations about how to connect creativity to labor action."--Labor Studies Journal "Sean P. Holmes spins a lively, well-researched yarn about how actors decided to take matters into their own hands, giving birth to the union that survives today: Actors' Equity Association (AEA). . . . a clear and smart study."--Labour/Le Travail "By tracing the contentious relationship between theatre managers and actors in the early 1900s, examining the performative elements of the actors' strike in 1919, and investigating the failure of the AEA to claim a stake in Hollywood, Holmes plots an engaging historical analysis that offers thorough detail and compelling examples."--Journal of American Culture "The stage has long been recognized as a site of consumption and of battles over the moral order. But Sean P. Holmes reminds us that it was also a workplace... A substantial contribution to the historiography of the Progressive Era and the 1920s."--H-Net Reviewsshow more

About Sean P. Holmes

Sean Holmes is deputy head and faculty member in the School of Arts at Brunel University in London.show more