The cast and crew of From the Fire, an original oratorio commemorating the centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, have had a busy summer. After the well-received New York debut of the oratorio last spring, the Eugene Lang College students and faculty were off to Edinburgh, Scotland, where the piece was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. At the monthlong festival, From the Fire picked up awards for Best Musical, Best Music, and Best New Production.
From the Fire was a collaboration of writer and director Cecilia Rubino, assistant professor of theater at Lang; composer Elizabeth Swados, Lang’s fall 2010 visiting artist; and the poet Paula Finn. From the Fire was revised for the festival run, but many of the students in the original cast and crew traveled with the production to Edinburgh in August.
The single greatest workplace tragedy in New York City before 9/11, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire claimed the lives of 146 immigrant garment workers, mostly young girls, and initiated a movement for workplace safety in New York City and across the country. The piece was particularly poignant to the Lang students in the cast, most of whom were the same age as the young women killed in the blaze.
The video above offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of From the Fire and what the story meant to the students who help bring it to life.