Tag Archives: famous fires

NYC in Scottsdale?

My husband James stumbled on a great pizza joint last Friday night while making a pet store run. Lovebirds can’t do pizza, so Trixy got bird food and we got slices from Joe’s New York Pizza in Scottsdale. Cheese for Lizabeth and Hawaiian for me.

March for gay rights in NYC, 1976 (Photo: Warren K. Leffler)

He walked in the door with dinner just after I’d watched a CNN broadcast of a short speech by New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The occasion for Cuomo’s remarks was the passage of a marriage equality act in the New York legislature.

I already had New York on the brain because I was readying for this week’s trip to NYC for Lizabeth’s college orientation. Lizabeth starts a B.F.A. in acting program this fall.

As Lizabeth weighed possible colleges earlier in the year, I was mindful of the political landscape in the various states where she might go to school — though I never mentioned things like my Cuomo versus Christie musings.

Cuomo spoke last Friday night of New York as a “social justice” state. “I’m always proud to be a New Yorker,” said Cuomo. “But tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Yorker.” Cuomo was among those leading the fight for marriage equality in New York.

In his remarks, Cuomo spoke of New York’s leadership in several fights for equal rights — the movement for women’s rights, the push for worker’s rights after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the most recent battle — equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples.

“Social justice,” said Cuomo, “is an evolutionary process.” He recognized others who’d championed this cause for New York citizens, and praised “the advocacy community from across the nation.” I’m sure some in Scottsdale embraced the vote with a “we’re all New Yorkers tonight” mindset.

I’m thrilled to be enjoying NYC with Lizabeth this week, but there are folks in Scottsdale that I’ll be missing while we’re away. Trixy, Pinky, Rugby — plus James and our other two children, also college students. But also Lizabeth’s teachers from the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, where she studied theater last summer.

Before we marched for marriage equality, we marched for women's rights and workers' rights

The conservatory presents its 2011 performance at the Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts Center Wed, June 29 and Thurs, June 30. They’re presenting “Strange Bedfellows,” which is set in my daughter Jennifer’s favorite city — San Francisco. They have a thing for civil rights too.

“Strange Bedfellows” is the tale of Senator Cromwell, “a politician who keeps his women under stern rule.” His son, Matthew Cromwell, is a young congressman who “dutifully follows in his father’s political footsteps — except when he marries a beautiful and determined suffragette.”

It examines “the coming of age of a woman’s right to vote” — and features “the escapades that ensue as the suffragette converts the women in the Cromwell family to her way of thinking.” Who doesn’t love a good conversion story?

I’m told that “shades of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and San Francisco’s brothel district come into play as each side tries to out-maneuver and out-smart the other.” Aristophanes, by the way, was a comedic playwright of ancient Greece.

I know the actors, theater professionals and teachers of Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre played a part in helping Lizabeth achieve her dream of studying and making theater in NYC — and I’m grateful.

Thanks to James and Joe’s New York Pizza, we can always enjoy a bit of NYC in Scottsdale. But this week, we’re carrying thoughts of Scottsdale with us in New York.

– Lynn

Note: Check out the “Stay Fancy Free” blog for more nifty black-and-white photos of suffragettes — plus lovely fiber arts fare. Click here to check out the site where I found the photo shot while the Democratic National Convention was in NYC during 1976.

Coming up: Shakespeare NYC-style, A stroll through the theater district, NYC: museum highlights

Remembering 1911

Head to the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre this weekend to see ASA perform TRIANGLE by Laurie Brooks and to enjoy an exhibit of related student artwork

Students from Arizona School for the Arts are performing “Triangle,” a play by Laurie Brooks, through May 1. It’s a remembrance of lives lived and lost at a New York City factory during 1911.

The Triangle Shirt Waist Fire took the lives of 146 people, mostly young immigrant women who worked in deplorable conditions for unfair wages. Factory doors were locked during working hours to prevent theft.

When a fire broke out on the top floors, workers were unable to escape. Fire truck ladders were too short to reach many of the victims. Some chose leaping out of windows over tortuous death by fire. 

It’s weighty material for a high school theater production, but ASA students did it justice during Friday night’s performance. Brooks’ writing is rich with vivid detail, and made me feel at times like I was right there on that factory floor.

Several elements essential to setting the mood for this story are executed by students. Nathan Naimark, who also performs in the show, delivers powerful lighting design. Costume design by Sophia Uptadel hints at the subtle ways workers were similar yet unique. Properties design is by Anika Larson.

Scenic design by Samantha Boswick, who teaches theatre production studies at ASA, features scaffolding draped with tattered pieces of fabric that convey the dreariness of life for many industrial age workers.

Sound design by A. Beck — which combines period piano music, the sound of a factory whistle and actor vocalizations simulating humming machines — is equally effective. Beck is theatre arts coordinator at ASA and serves as artistic director for this production of “Triangle.”

Themes pulled from the lives of 1911 men and women feel remarkably relevant 100 years later. Parental expectations. Sibling rivalry. Teen yearnings for independence. Gender roles. Poverty. Illegal immigration. Worker rights. Corporate responsibility.

The year 1911 — in the hands of playwright Laurie Brooks and Arizona School for the Arts — doesn’t feel all that far away. That may be the most powerful lesson of all.

– Lynn

Note: Those who attend “Triangle” this weekend (Sat, 7pm or Sun, 2pm) can also enjoy related artwork by students in ASA’s introduction to theatre class, which is exhibited in the lobby of the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre. Click here to learn more about the Triangle factory and fire.

Coming up: The smell of childhood, Circle time