New York Drunk Shakespeare Joins Three Other Cities to Unionize with Actors’ Equity Association

New York-- The actors, stage managers, bartenders and servers of Drunk Shakespeare in New York City, the longest-running of the productions nationwide, are now the fourth company of the theatrical franchise to unionize as Drunk Shakespeare United. Alongside their fellow workers in Chicago, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., they have designated Actors’ Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional performers and stage managers in live theatre, as their bargaining representative.   

While they would welcome the voluntary recognition their employers offered to their colleagues in the three other cities, the workers in New York are confident their signed union commitment cards will lead to certification by the NLRB, if necessary.

In all four cities, workers unanimously chose to unionize in order to implement systems that will preserve the high quality of the show and establish a clear line of communication with management to raise concerns as they arise.  

“I love this show. The whole company loves this show and we deeply believe this is a special show,” said Danielle Cohn, who has been performing in Drunk Shakespeare since 2018, totaling nearly 900 performances. “We’re organizing because we want the show to be healthy and run well. It’s time to standardize protections for everybody and provide a framework for conversations with our employer. We can do this best with a union.” 

“This show has a lot of moving pieces, and we need assurance that we can deal with issues as soon as they come up,” Lawrence Karl, a server with Drunk Shakespeare. “Above all, we want assurance that all of us receive fair and equitable treatment. I am already an Equity member from a union family. Our employer should welcome Equity’s role here, and support the workers who have made it clear this is what we want.” 

“With the addition of New York, we now have nearly one hundred workers organized with Drunk Shakespeare United,” said Director of Organizing and Mobilization Stefanie Frey. “They have repeatedly told us how valuable it’s been to connect for the first time with their colleagues in other cities, to realize that they are not alone in navigating many of their workplace issues. This is a perfect example of workers having more power together, and we're excited to come to the bargaining table and find a deal that makes Drunk Shakespeare a better, safer, fairer workplace across the country. This is going to mean a theatre experience that runs more smoothly, and for longer.” 

Drunk Shakespeare, which first opened in New York almost nine years ago, currently has five productions of the show running around the country: the four newly unionized productions as well as a recently opened company in Houston. Equity encourages all workers in live performance who feel they would benefit from a union contract to contact the union’s organizing department at 

ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA.  #EquityWorks 

August 24, 2023