Tonight we pay homage to Studs Terkel who passed away earlier this year. The play is adapted from the book of the same title, WORKING published in 1974 where he interviewed people about they do all day and how they feel about work.
There is hardly an interviewer, commentator or probing journalist among us who can elicit so much grief and passion, so many forlorn hopes and decayed dreams, so much of the tedium and frustration of daily existence from his subjects as Studs Terkel. Subjects? Hardly. Talking casually, sometimes disjointedly and hesitantly, or unleashing long suppressed feelings in an angry torrent, these are not clinical case studies but complex, fully human people whose humdrum reminiscences of long hours, days and years on the job are almost painfully involving. Even their laughter, abrupt and nervous, will make you wince because in Terkel's words, "This book, being about work is, by it's very nature, about violence – to the spirit as well as to the body." "You're nothing more than a machine. . . . They give better care to that machine than they will to you. They'll have more respect, give more attention to that machine," says the twenty-seven year-old spot welder at Ford. "I'm a mule" says the steelworker. Nor is the sense of waste and futility confined to blue-collar workers. Terkel talks to shipping clerks and sports figures, copy boys, hospital aides, salesmen, press agents, a doorman, a barber, a fireman, a cop, a pharmacist, a piano tuner, a stockbroker, a gravedigger. . . and yes, there is a common chord. Pride, the pride of craftsmanship is harder and harder to sustain; the old work ethic seems to many like a dirty trick.
A rousing musical with a cast of twenty, “WORKING” is for anyone who has ever punched a clock, a cow or a supervisor – or wanted to. Starring Eileen Barnett, Orson Bean, Harry Groener, Kaitlin Hopkins, Michael Kostroff, Kenna Ramsey, Vickilyn Reynolds, Vincent Tumeo, and B.J. Ward Written by Studs Terkel, Stephen Schwartz, Nina Faso, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz, and James Taylor.