One hundred years ago, on 25th March 1911, New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory caught fire. 146 immigrant women, mostly Jewish and Italian, died trying to escape the blaze. ‘From the Fire’ commemorates these workers, celebrates the contribution they made to labour reform, and reminds us to remember that times have changed less than we would like to think.
One year before the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Uprising of the 20,000 saw women stage a significant strike for the first time. ‘From the Fire’ gives us a glimpse into the lives of these ordinary working women who did extraordinary things – migrating across continents to make a better life, fighting for social reform and suffrage.
The story is told in the form of an oratorio created by Tony-nominated composer Elizabeth Swados, poet Paula Finn and writer/director Cecilia Rubino. The ensemble cast are young but extraordinarily talented: their voices strong and soaring, their performances assured and mature.
The staging is equally confident. Producer and designer Bonnie Roche-Bronfman’s stark set works wonderfully well, becoming almost a character in its own right. Projected images flicker above the stage, interspersing period photos with footage of modern-day sweatshops. Live music creates atmosphere whilst never distracting from the action.
‘From the Fire’ has already won sell-out crowds and critical acclaim in New York. The Fringe is its European debut and it is only in Edinburgh for a short run, and already garnering critical acclaim and whispers of theatre awards. Catch it while you can.
12-20 Aug 1030 (1130) @ Zoo Roxy