Working-Class Theater Revives

In two weeks I am doing another run, this one twenty-six shows, of City Water Tunnel #3, here in New York City at a theater on West 42nd Street. This location, "the theater district," is allowing people who don't usually come to the theater to feel safer about doing so. It reads out as a "legitimate theater," not a theater they never heard of in downtown Manhattan. Most of the tunnel workers and office workers came to the Memorial Benefit two years ago when the show first opened, sending their families and friends afterwards, but this new run has now caught the interest and support of many of the major unions here. Part of that is word of mouth, but I am also getting to work with the Working Theatre, whose board is made up of union members and officials who are committed to seeing theater made about working people's lives. Yippie! Lucky me.

In an hour from now I perform excerpts of the show for the editors of New York's labor papers and newsletters and tomorrow morning for a Labor History Conference. Two weeks ago I performed for Local 1199's (New York Local of Hospital Employees) "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," and I rehearse every day at Communication Workers of America Local 1180's headquarters. I'm working so hard on the show, it's hard to take in the fact that this is the beginning of the realization of my dream - to see a rich, vigorous relationship between theater and the labor movement, where the power of live performance plays a key role in the transformation of society.

It looks like there might be a good deal more media attention this time around, and I am squeezing in little mini-conferences to think about how to use interviews, radio spots, and TV to talk straight about society, working people's worth and lives, and the tremendous possibility for transformation now. What I've discovered is that it helps me if I keep breathing and let other people say whatever they say (not get pulled into conversations when I'm not really sure what they are talking about) and stay relaxedly (!) confident that something intelligent will come into my head (at least one thing) before the interviewer says, "Okay, that's it, thanks for being here." So far, so good.

Marty Pottenger
New York City, New York, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00