Though it has been a tumultuous journey leading up to this year's 76th Annual Tony Awards with the WGA Strike forcing the ceremony to go unscripted, the evening proved to be an important example of solidarity with the arts and entertainment communities, according to the union.
In a recent tweet including highlights from the ceremony (including shots of host Ariana DeBose's opening dance number), the WGA thanked the Tony winners who used their platforms to call attention to the strike. Support for WGA and its members was the hot topic of the evening, with messages of support coming in several acceptance speeches, including those by Jeanine Tesori, David Lindsay-Abaire, Miriam Silverman, and Tom Stoppard.
In a tweet, the WGA wrote: "A big congratulations, and a big thank you to the Tony Award winners who stood with the #WGAstrike in their speeches. Thank you to attendees wearing #WGAstrong pins, and to everyone who showed solidarity with the writers during last night’s unscripted awards show."
A big congratulations, and a big thank you to the Tony Award winners who stood with the #WGAstrike in their speeches. Thank you to attendees wearing #WGAstrong pins, and to everyone who showed solidarity with the writers during last night’s unscripted awards show. ✊ pic.twitter.com/prajZUSTcB— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) June 12, 2023
The WGA did not picket this year's Tony Awards following several promises from the Broadway League, namely presenting the awards without any work that would normally require a WGA member, necessitating an unscripted ceremony. Though the union had originally asked its Tony-nominated guild members to not attend the evening as the Hollywood union continues to strike, WGA members were in attendance at the event. Since May 2, the WGA, which represents TV and film writers, has been on strike following a breakdown in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over royalties for streaming titles and the potential use of A.I. in screenwriting, among other grievances. As a result, this year's Tony Awards were fully unscripted.
The lack of a script became a defining aspect of the CBS portion of the ceremony's opening number, lead by host Ariana DeBose. She kicked off the night with a dance medley of Broadway tunes and recapped the strike for audiences everywhere to explain why the night's ceremony was going to be off-the-cuff. "Darlings, buckle up!," she said to everyone who thought "she was unhinged last year." DeBose made another reference to the unscripted nature of the ceremony when she was meant to introduce presenters for Best Featured Actress in a Play. DeBose pulled up the sleeve of her jacket to show smeared marker notes on her arm. "I have no idea what these notes mean," said DeBose, "so welcome whoever is about to walk out on that stage!"
Among the presenters, one to also reference the strike was Utkarsh Ambudkar. While presenting the award for Best Leading Actress in a Play, Ambudkar jokingly introduced himself as his co-presenter, Marcia Gay Harden. "I'm sorry everyone, the teleprompters are empty. I miss the writers."
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