7 SEPTEMBER 1951, Page 4


COVENTRY has been torn by an issue which over- shadowed even the controversy over its new cathedral— the question whether an American actress who is a member of the Variety Artists' Federation, and as such has played in this country twice before, could take the leading part assigned to her in the " musical production," billed to open at Coventry on Tuesday, without joining the other theatrical association, Equity. Equity, by threatening to call out its own members, and so wreck the show, got its way, the pro- ducer deciding to pay the lady's entry dues to Equity, and the lady consenting to fill up the necessary forms herself. Force, therefore, has triumphed over justice. For all players in this country Equity and V.A.F. tickets are interchangeable, but Equity claims the right to make another rule for foreign artistes. The matter came before the London Theatre Council, where Lord Terrington, as independent chairman, ruled unhesitatingly against Equity, but his decision only had the force of a recom- mendation, and Equity disregarded it. As an instructive footnote to the whole affair, while the spokesman of Equity at the Trades Union Congress was d&laring that the V.A.F. " was in fact a front for employers' organisations in the entertainment industry," another spokesman of Equity was affirming officially that Equity had always tried to co-operate with the V.A.F., and there was no conflict of interests between them. Where right and wrong lies the public can see well enough, but I doubt if public opinion counts for much in such a case.