From 1776 to Working: We The People Brings New Theater to the UV


Submitted 4 months ago
Created by
Susan B. Apel

The musical 1776 was a sold-out community phenomenon at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction this past spring. Its producer and director, Perry Allison, has announced the formation of a new Upper Valley theater company, We The People Theatre Project. Its next musical production will be Working, based on the best-selling book by Studs Terkel, scheduled for a 10-performance run in March 2019.

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I fell in love with Terkel's book when it was first released in 1974. Terkel interviewed hundreds of Americans in all walks of life: piano tuners, construction workers, publishers, hospital aides, police, priests, hookers, and writers. (For some reason, my original paperback copy is dog-eared at "bus driver.") The book talks less about workers, but rather, allows the workers to speak for themselves. From page one of the introduction, Terkel's words about work have been quoted endlessly, even showing up recently in a Facebook meme.

Work “ . . . is about a search, too, for daily meaning, as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying."

Terkel concluded that some people love their jobs, some don't, and many exhibit "an ambiguity of attitude toward The Job. Something more than Orwellian acceptance, something less than Luddite sabotage." When that alarm goes off and we’re headed to work, or when we are on the drive home, and for the hours in between, many of us feel, well . . . conflicted.

Do you have a corner of a bookshelf that houses those college-era books you cannot, and probably will never, give away? Here’s part of mine, where I found my very yellowed paperback of Working.

It is early days in this production at We The People. Richard Waterhouse, who teaches acting locally and at Brown University, will direct the production. Perry Allison will produce. Katie Kitchel, who portrayed John Hancock in 1776, will handle community outreach. Auditions are scheduled for September 6 and 7 at the Briggs Opera House. To become involved, or for more information, contact Perry Allison at 978-621-1982, or at info@wethepeopletheatre.com, or visit the website, here.

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