Stories Triangle Factory Fire

Published on October 25th, 2013 | by SMUMN

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Theatre students perform in London

 

Saint Mary’s University theatre majors, under the direction of Dr. Gary Diomandes, are staging the tragic play, “The Triangle Factory Fire Project,” Oct. 22-26 at TARA Studio in London.

“1 CIGARETTE, 28 MINUTES, 148 DEAD”

On Saturday, March 25, 1911 at Triangle Waist Factory off downtown Manhattan’s Washington Square, 500 immigrant workers from Poland, Russia and Italy are toiling 14-hour days making lady’s dresses. Suddenly, a cigarette is tossed into a bin of fabric scraps.

Despite desperate efforts, flames sweep through the eighth, ninth and 10th floors. Panic-stricken workers run in all directions. On the ninth floor, some make it to the fire escape, only to have it collapse beneath their weight. Others run to the exit door but find it locked—many, including the soon-to-be-married Margaret Schwartz, die with their hands on the doorknob. Dozens leap from the windows to their deaths, shocking the crowd of onlookers gathered below. And some, through bravery or sheer luck, make it out alive. In the space of 28 minutes, the fire is under control, but 146 people, mainly young immigrant girls, have died.

The Triangle Factory Fire Project uses eyewitness accounts, court transcripts and other archival material to create a dramatic moment-by-moment account of this historic fire and the social upheaval that followed. It culminates in the manslaughter trial of the owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, whose shocking acquittal inspires new outrage across New York and the entire country, the repercussions of which shaped social, political and economic policies for decades to come. By using real words spoken by real people, from Ukrainian seamstresses to millionaire Fifth Avenue socialites, The Triangle Factory Fire Project paints a heartbreakingly clear picture of a disastrous day in American history and explores the human toll such a tragedy takes on us all.

Qualified theatre majors at Saint Mary’s are studying theatre in London, England, this semester through the Stefannié Valéncia Kierlin Theatre in London Program. Under the guidance of Saint Mary’s faculty, the program includes a variety of classes in theatre, as well as courses focusing on broader enrichment. Students have the unique opportunity to attend numerous performances at London’s West End, Off-West End, and Fringe theatres.

For more information, go to http://tara-arts.com/whats-on/the-triangle-factory-fire-project.

Check out the Semester in London blog for photos of the performance.

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