by Laurie Brooks
Commissioned and premiered by Arizona State University, School of Theatre and Film, 2008.
Set against the backdrop of the historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, this stylistically thrilling new play explores the immigrant experience then and now through the tragedy of the “fire that changed America.” Sophie, a sixteen year-old seamstress who died in the fire, haunts Malena, a modern Hispanic girl who is in conflict with her sister, Isabel. Sophie is filled with guilt because she did not save her sister, Rose, from the fire and now cannot find her. When Sophie, along with the ghosts of other dead factory girls, appears to her, Malena encourages Sophie to tell her story, never imagining that they will all be transported back in time to relive the tale. Using images, movement and sound, an ensemble of actors portray the ghosts of those who died in the fire and seamlessly take on individual roles in Sophie’s story. Sophie has arranged a job at the Triangle factory for Rose to keep her from running the streets with a gang of rowdy boys. But now Sophie owes the foreman, Mr. Jake, a favor. He demands that Sophie spy on the union organizers who are her friends. If she refuses, Sophie and her sister will be fired and blacklisted. Sophie, unaware that her sister is in love with Max, meets him one night at a dance and they fall in love. Already angry at Sophie for making her work at the Triangle, Rose discovers this relationship and in her anger lies, telling Max that Sophie has “traded favors” with other men. Max, crazed with anger and jealousy, rejects her. Sophie, alone and afraid of losing her job, decides the only way out is give up her dreams and marry Louis, a successful man she doesn’t love. Then someone strikes a match and there is a fire…
In this tale of regret, responsibility and forgiveness, Sophie reveals her terrible secret and finds peace while helping Malena to see her sister in a new light. Triangle was commissioned and premiered by The School of Theatre and Film at Arizona State University