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The Ensemblist is an inside look at the experience of being a Broadway performer- from the first rehearsal through performing eight shows a week and beyond. Whether you’re an experienced theatre professional or a passionate fan, The Ensemblist will give you the opportunity to get to know new performers and the great work they do onstage, while also shedding light on some of the hidden innerworkings of the Broadway experience. Created and hosted by Mo Brady (The Addams Family, SMASH) and Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Chicago, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), The Ensemblist is the only podcast that shows you Broadway from the inside out. 


"Why Can't The Union Do Both?"

Mo Brady

by Aaron J. Albano

In light of recent discussion by Actors' Equity Association to change the name of “The Gypsy Robe,” Broadway actor Aaron J. Albano shares his opinion on the name change. 

Aaron J. Albano receiving the Robe for  Newsies

Aaron J. Albano receiving the Robe for Newsies

This Robe debate has saddened me in ways I did not expect from this community. When I first received the email my first thought was “Why?” Like many voices opposed to the change, I thought about the pride that I have felt bearing the moniker, the community that has been built around it, and the values that I’ve grown to associate with it. And like all those voices, I grew defensive, thinking, “this is how it’s always been,” or “we don’t mean it offensively,” or “who is even asking for this? Shouldn’t the union be focusing on bigger things?”

And over the course of the day, I’ve reflected on how horrible those mindsets are, and how reminiscent they are to other similar recent events in our nation.

Am I sad that I’m losing a term that I myself associated with many great things in my life? Sure. I’m aware that that word has a very different definition to me than it does to the people it offends. Am I upset? No, because I don't have the right to be. Just because it doesn’t offend me doesn’t make it okay, and using tradition as an excuse to keep it isn’t a good enough reason. I am not a part of the people group that the word offends, but that doesn’t mean the word isn’t offensive. It offends someone, and that should be enough for us to evoke change.

The argument that the union should be focused on more important things is frankly what saddens me most. Why can’t the union do both, especially when one of those actions is speaking for a marginalized people group that is clearly not being heard? That is a value that I would want in any part of my life, professional or otherwise.

Yes, for me, there is a tragedy in losing this word that I held dear. But also for me, it is a small price to pay for the inclusion and validation of people who are not me. And while the word is lost, the values it stood for are not, and I have faith that we will find an equal, less offensive, more appropriate word to stand for the community I love and cherish.