Attacks against unions and workplace rights have prompted workers to fight for their rights, including strikes. As teachers across the country have captured national attention and stirred the political imagination of working people a conversation is stirring about workplace rights, the dignity of a living wage and the concentration of wealth among the few.
Public sympathy for unions and workers is increasing and is manifesting in artistic expression and popular culture.
In the Twin Cities, two significant productions focusing on the perspective of workers are coming.
Frank Theatre closes its 30th anniversary season with Marc Blitzstein’s labor musical The Cradle Will Rock,
March 15-April 7, 2019 at Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul.
Written in 1937 by Marc Blitzstein, The Cradle Will Rock is one of the first pro-union musicals written in this country. It is an allegory of corporate greed set in Steeltown, USA. The corporate dictatorship is led by Mr. Mister who influences and controls major institutions in town including; the church journalists, the university and artists.
Through flashback and song, the story illustrates how each of the civic leaders sold out to Mr. Mister, except Larry Foreman, a union organizer who is attempting to organize the entire town.
“We’re looking forward to exploring the impact of this piece today—80 years after it was written, 15 years after we first staged it—when money still equals power, perhaps even more now than then, and organizing is the key to fighting that power. CRADLE is exactly the kind of work we need to see now, and it’s a fantastic way to cap our 30th season of agitating!” said Frank Theatre Artistic Director Wendy Knox.
The Guthrie just announced it’s 2019–2020 season.
The season closes with Sweat
(July 25 – August 29, 2020), set in Reading Pennsylvania. Playwright Lynn Nottage did extensive research with residents before writing the play. She won her second Pulitzer Prize in 2017 for Sweat
Reading is a small town that is home to generations of blue-collar workers, many of whom work at Olstead’s factory. The play wrestles with the reality of a changing economy as NAFTA spurs rumors of layoffs in the small company town.
From the press release,
“Promotions and pride inevitably collide, forming cracks in decades-old friendships that crumble when the factory breaks with the union. From the politically charged opening scene to its electrifying conclusion, Sweat boldly confronts issues of race, immigration, globalization and the ever-slipping grip on middle-class life — all with Nottage’s signature humor and heart.”