Theatrical syndicate


Theatrical syndicate
   Also referred to as the Theatrical Trust, the Theatrical Syndicate was set up in 1895 during a secret meeting of major producers, A. L. Erlanger, Charles Frohman, William Harris Sr., Al Hayman, Marc Klaw, Samuel F. Nixon-Nirdlinger, and J. Fred Zimmerman, with the initial plan of better organizing the chaotic booking procedures of the day. This admirable goal evolved into a virtual monopoly over nearly all theatres in the United States. The terms the Syndicate offered producers and actors grew increasingly harsh. A few notables fought back, particularly Harrison Grey Fiske and his wife, Minnie Maddern Fiske, who, like Sarah Bernhardt, opted to perform in tents before acquiescing to the Syndicate's terms. David Belasco also resisted. Even though the nationwide press assailed the Syndicate's practices, its stranglehold on American theatre remained intact until the Shubert brothers established their own producing empire in competition. The Syndicate ordered the Shuberts to cease acquiring theatres in 1905, but they fought back by building their own. By 1916, the Syndicate's last agreement expired and the Shuberts became the major theatre monopoly until 1930.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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