Actors’ Equity Association will rename Broadway’s “Gypsy Robe” ceremony, which celebrates ensemble members of Broadway shows, after the current season. The decision—a response to the cultural implications of the term—follows a vote by AEA’s National Council.
The ceremony dates back to 1950 and involves the passing of a robe to each musical featuring a chorus on its respective opening night. The chorus member with the most Broadway credits dons the robe, circles the stage three times (with fellow cast members touching the robe as it passes), and “blesses” each dressing room. A panel representing the musical is added to the robe before it's passed on to the next opening production.
"When I think of the Robe, I think about the intent behind the tradition, which is meant to celebrate our members," said R. Kim Jordan, chair of Equity's Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs, in a statement. "But the words we use have an impact beyond their intent, and we cannot appropriate someone else's identity without their voice attached to it. I'm proud that Council voted to retire the name while we continue the tradition of the Robe next season."
A poll is open to Equity members to suggest new names for the robe; options include the Baum Bradley Robe, the Legacy Robe, and the Chorus Robe.