Saturday, December 27, 2014

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One hundred years after the deadliest industrial disaster in the city's history, NY1 News looks back at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

Performance Serves As Living Memorial To City Tragedy

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TWC News: New Work Serves As Living Memorial To City Tragedy
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This week marks the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The anniversary will be observed by a number of somber ceremonies, but the occasion will also be marked by a number artist interpretations of the event. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.

From the fire, grief and outrage the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 have left a permanent mark on all our lives.

"Every exit sign you see, every fire escape, every kid who lines up for a fire drill, anytime you look up and see a sprinkler system, it all directly comes from this particular fire," said "From the Fire" Co-writer, Director Cecilia Rubino.

In all, 146 people -- mostly young women and girls -- were killed in the fire, as many jumped to their deaths. Rubino, a professor of theater at The New School wanted to make sure their struggle for health and safety standards and stronger labor laws is never forgotten. Several years ago, she started to work on a new theatre piece called "From the Fire," now in rehearsal just in time for this week's centennial of the tragedy.

Rubino tapped acclaimed composer Elizabeth Swados to pen the music.

"The most important thing, the thing that I felt was my job was to create a memorial that was not sad but a memorial that was loving towards those who had perished and that was strong and angry like those who had protested. A memorial of the women who dared at that time," Swados said.

For 19-year-old Kiera Bono -- who is not much older than many of the women who worked and died in the factory -- it's a story that still resonates today.

"In the piece, we have a spotlight on the fire that happened in Bangladesh in December. Very similar situation, people jumping off the ninth floor, doors were locked and unfortunately we need to keep revisiting these crucial historical events because they keep happening," Bono said.

Performances are being held at the Judson Memorial Church. Built in the 1880s, it stands just a few blocks from where the fire took place. It was the site for funerals and memorials for many of the victims.

Opening night for the the five-day run is this Wednesday.

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