Home Arts & Entertainment Jewish Theatre turns time with historical play about 1911 tragedy

Jewish Theatre turns time with historical play about 1911 tragedy

The main narrator of the show was a New York journalist who covered the fire. Photo by John Rothwell


By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor

“Triangle Factory Fire Project,” the current show in season for the Jewish Theatre of Grand Rapids retells the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 New York City.

Nine cast members played over 12 characters, with several actors playing multiple roles.

The show was narrated by news headlines, adding a dramatic effect to the timeline of events. The scenes in between were acted or consisted of narration by an actor playing a New York journalist.

The cast ranged in age, making the actors’ approach more realistic. The audience was brought back in time and reeled into a tragedy that, to them, may have just been a headline in their memory before.

The fatal fire occurred on March 25, 1911 and 146 people died, many of which were working immigrants. The doors on one side of the building were locked, trapping many workers inside. Historically, the locking of the doors was a practice used to keep workers from taking breaks or stealing.

When performing a historical documentary style show, the actors and director have a shared responsibility of preserving history.

“The responsibility is to do it well,” said Jeralyn Pinsky, director of the show. “The issues were serious and exist today. Hopefully the audience will be educated and entertained at the same time.”

Upcoming shows are at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Grand Rapids Community College’s Spectrum Theater. Tickets range from $18-$20.

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