Equity says the show will not go on

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The actors' union Equity began nationwide industrial action in its pay dispute with a theatre managers' group. Equity's 35,000 members have been asked by the union not to sign any new contracts in Britain's 104 subsidised regional theatres.

The dispute is over minimum pay. Equity want a guaranteed minimum of pounds 250 a week with a pounds 75 weekly subsistence allowance. The current minimum salary in subsidised repertory is pounds 190 a week with a subsistence payment of pounds 56 for actors working away from home. An offer from employers group the Theatrical Management Association of pounds 200 this year and pounds 225 in 1998 was rejected by Equity's Council two weeks ago. Action, if maintained, would black out most of the theatres by the summer.