On March 25, 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on Greene Street was engulfed in flames. On the 8th and 9th floors all the doors were locked form the outside to prevent employees from discussing unionism in the hallways, to discourage suspected theft and to ensure a full days work from the essentially enslaved seamstresses. 146 people died in this disaster. Some stood at windows begging to be saved. Some tried to climb down the fire escape that immediately collapsed because no one had wanted to pay for its repair. Some tried the elevator that was valiantly operated until it could no longer rise because of the weight on its roof of girls who had jumped into the shaft.
In the new musical Solitary Light Randy Sharp and Paul Carbonara tell this story through the eyes of those who witnessed it. Using historical documents and newspaper accounts they recreate the lives of two young politically minded immigrant workers in love, the financially strapped owners and the incredibly rich families of 1911 New York who had little concept of the horrors of the working class experience.
The streets of lower Manhattan in the early 20th century and the fascinating stories that happened there are carefully recreated in a manner that will bring this turning point in history to life on stage. How did a disaster like this happen? How is it possible that it still occurs in factories all over the world?
Solitary Light is part of the 2nd annual Theater:Village Festival, an annual theatrical event of plays centered around one playwright or theme running simultaneously in different West Village venues.