“Working,” Staged by Ursinus Theater, Has Local Flavor
Working—a musical about the significance of work in our lives and the different attitudes Americans have regarding work—is coming to Collegeville. Performances are March 23, 24, and 25 at 7:30 p.m., and March 26 at 2 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater.
Thanks to a recent licensing agreement allowing for the “localization” of the documentary play, Director and Professor of Theater Domenick Scudera is bringing the historic musical to town in more ways than one.
Ursinus College Theater is one of the first companies to produce the localized version of the play, an experimental licensing that lets you put the voices of working people from your own community into the play through your performers, who conduct one-on-one interviews. Some monologues have been replaced with the actual spoken words of working people in the Ursinus and greater Collegeville community.
In 1977, the original musical premiered in Chicago, containing monologues pulled from Stud Terkel’s 1974 book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Forty-six years later, audience members will hear what it is truly like to be a working person in Collegeville, Pa., in the context of the larger national picture captured in Terkel’s book.
The actors interviewed 10 different workers from a variety of professional fields around Ursinus and Collegeville. The words from those interviews have been used to create new monologues, which have been woven into the script between the remaining original monologues and songs inspired by Terkel’s 1974 book.
“Since the pandemic hit and changed many of our work experiences, many of us in the workforce are reevaluating what work means in our lives,” said Scudera. “This seems like a particularly apt time to produce this musical, to allow our audiences to view the themes of work onstage and to consider the meaning of work in our lives.”
The very unusual production process prompted surprising findings for the team of performer-producers. “We have discovered, in the process of rehearsing this musical, that most people do not talk about how they feel about what they do,” Scudera said. “This is curious, since most of our days are filled with work.”
“By working on Working, the members of the company have started a much-needed dialogue with each other and with our local community. We very much look forward to sharing this conversation with our audiences and inviting them into the discussion.”
Performances are March 23, 24, and 25 at 7:30 p.m., and March 26 at 2 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $7 for seniors and Ursinus students, faculty, and staff. To purchase tickets, click here.