Whose dream will survive?
The Triangle Waist Company fire on March 25th, 1911, lives in infamy as one of the worst disasters in the history of New York City. In just a few short minutes, over one hundred and forty lives were abruptly extinguished when the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of the Triangle Waist Company were consumed by fire on that fateful March day. Most of the casualties were female immigrants who had come to America to start new lives for themselves and for their families. Many of the girls sent portions of their meager incomes back home to their relatives who remained in the ”old country.” The young women had believed the stories they had read about American streets being ”paved with gold.” The reality was, the only gold they saw were the gold coins pocketed by the manufacturers.
It isn’t until the final scene of Debra Whitfield’s new play FIRE that the drama’s various threads intertwine and the playwright’s ultimate purpose becomes clear. However, that doesn’t mean the rest of the play leading up to that point is inferior. It would be an engaging portrait of immigrant life during the Industrial Revolution, with everything that entails — romance, family, a minimum wage that would have New Yorkers rioting today, and the ever-present American dream — even without that superb capstone of a final scene. Directed by Benjamin Viertel, FIRE (Theatre 54 @ Shetler Studios & Theatres) is the debut production of Chatillion Stage Company, which aims to produce plays exploring the female experience. With this engaging, poignant first production, they’re off to a strong start. FIRE examines the women and men connected with the fire which in 1911 claimed the lives of 146 workers on the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors of the Triangle Waist Company factory. Many of the casualties were young female immigrants working to support their families, and the play focuses primarily on three of these women and the men connected to them. As the nature of her character’s story demands, …Read more