Although the events of the play take place in the early 20th century, THE TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE PROJECT’s harrowing depiction of a deadly conflagration in downtown Manhattan felt “torn from the headlines” when it premiered in the wake of 9/11. Today, as “essential workers” put their lives on the line every day for employers who are more concerned with profit than safety, the play’s examination of the cruelty of unfettered capitalism is again shockingly contemporary. With theaters around the country closed, the authors have created a Zoom-ready version of the script to deliver their urgent message to audiences wherever they are.
THE STORY: Saturday, March 25, 1911. 4:45 P.M. In the Triangle Waist Factory off downtown Manhattan’s Washington Square—where 500 immigrant workers from Poland, Russia and Italy toil fourteen-hour days making lady’s dresses—a cigarette is tossed into a bin of fabric scraps. Despite desperate efforts, flames sweep through the eighth, ninth and tenth 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 twenty-eight 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.
“Electrically directed by Scott Alan Evans, and dynamically acted by the whole company, it is one of the theatre events of the season. Everyone involved does a brilliant job in this searing play, which reminds us why theatre exists.” —NY Post. “A good play is a wonderful distraction. A great play tugs at your emotional core. A truly great play does all that and also affects it audience by triggering memories and influencing one’s view of events. THE TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE is one of the plays that falls into the last category.” —OffOffOnline. “The creative pieces of this puzzle—cast, director, writer and designers—come together beautifully in a collaborative blaze of sadness, energy and poignancy. One can only hope that 100 years from now we might have the same perspective on our own New York tragedy.” —Broadway.com.