On Saturday, March 5, a play opens at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester that commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. This tragic and senseless historic event killed 146 factory workers who were primarily young female immigrants. The fire took place at a Manhattan garment factory on March 25, 1911, caused by a lit cigarette that ignited a bin of fabric scraps. When the decrepit fire escape collapsed and the young workers were unable to escape through the illegally locked factory doors, many jumped to their deaths on the corner of Washington Place and Green Street. Despite the myriad breaches of safety protocols in the factory, the factory owners ended up being acquitted.
A wave of outrage spread across the country setting into motion the expansion of labor unions and raising standards in safety protocols. It also became a cornerstone issue of the women’s suffrage movement.
In The Triangle Factory Fire Project, playwright Christopher Piehler in collaboration with Scott Alan Evans, takes historic accounts from eye witnesses, court transcripts and archival materials to bring to life this tragic episode in American history. Catastrophes such as this, the sinking of the Titanic, the terrorism attack of 9/11 and the deadly fire that took place in Bangladesh in December that catalyze reform also leave their mark on our collective psyche for generations to come.
In this play, directed by Brian Coughlin, 9 actors play 50 roles. The play, divided into two acts, explores the event itself as well as the subsequent trial.
At one time, Rochester had a thriving garment industry, which has inspired labor leaders and school teachers to band together to support the production with background information and lobby displays. Linda H. Donahue, Senior Extension Associate of Cornell ILR and Gary Bonadonna, Political Director of Workers United will also join the cast and director for an audience discussion following the performance on March 6, 2011.
This is the area premiere of The Triangle Factory Fire Project which will be presented at the Jewish Community Center on:
- Saturday, March 5 at 8pm
- Sunday, March 6 at 2pm
- Thursday, March 10 at 7pm
- Saturday, March 12 at 8pm
- Sunday, March 13 at 2pm
- Thursday, March 17 at 7pm
- Saturday, March 19 at 8pm
- Sunday, March 20 at 2pm