Bread & Roses workers’ theater celebrates 2018 success with great plans for 2019

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WORKERS TURNED ACTORS in the 2018 Bread & Roses Workers Opera about the struggle for living wages and dignity in the workplace, incorporating spoken word, dance and song are (in front, from left) CWA 6300 members Camese Johnson and Michael Paplanus, United Media Guild’s Shannon Duffy and CWA 6355’s Hollie Roe. (In back, from left) Bread & Roses Missouri Musical Director Colin McLaughlin and musician Shane Devine.) –Philip Deitch photo

Help is needed to continue sharing workers’ voices

By ED FINKELSTEIN

Publisher

As Bread & Roses, the workers’ theater, wraps up a successful, high-energy 2018 sharing the struggles and successes of workers as portrayed by talented local trade unionists, Bread & Roses Missouri Director Joan Suarez says organizers are looking forward to another active year in 2019, with an invitation for anyone interested in workers’ rights and issues to attend a performance.

The group’s “actors” are food servers, musicians, sanitation, communications workers and other union members, a talented cast of actors and musicians who, with dignity and artistic expression, tell the historical and contemporary stories of workers’ daily fight for living wages.

During 2018 Bread & Roses expanded their audiences and impact:

• Kicked off the year with energy and purpose when the Missouri History Museum once again hosted their production, Then and Now, Again: A Workers’ Opera (Remix).

• At venues across the state throughout the year, more than 2,000 people experienced the Workers’ Opera, starring the Bread & Roses Players.

• Wowed audiences at venues large and small, from their House Party series to the Grand Center’s successful Theatre Crawl in July.

• On the road: Thanks to MOVE, the Missouri Organizing and Voter Engagement Collaborative, the show went on the road to Columbia and Kansas City.

• Children’s initiative: Last summer, 300 African-American and immigrant students between the ages of seven and 12 combined art and activism through poetry, dance and movement, theatre, sculpture, music, murals, and mandalas.  Bread & Roses plans to expand this childrens’ initiative.

TALENTED LEADERSHIP

Bread & Roses Artistic Director Kathryn Bentley channeled the creativity of the Worker Theater Players into sketches, songs, and poems, that successfully educated and activated audiences on key issues such as raising the minimum wage and cleaning up government.

The youth artist-led workshops are under the direction of Dail Chambers, Bread and Roses Lead Teaching Artist, in cooperation with six St. Louis city recreation centers and four faith-based venues.

CATCH THE TALENTED GROUP IN 2019 

The St. Louis History Museum will feature the 2019 Workers’ Opera on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. in the AT&T Room at the Museum in Forest Park.

The group’s first play, Jailbird written by Colin McLaughlin and directed by Kathryn Bentley, will debut in May 2019. The play is a dramatization of the 1920 presidential campaign of Eugene V. Debs, an outspoken Labor organizer and socialist leader who won a million votes from his jail cell.

NEEDS YOUR HELP TO GROW

You can help Bread & Roses in its continuing mission to share stories of workers and working families through the arts.

“To grow this organization and our impact, we need you,” Suarez said.

Bread and Roses Missouri takes a strong stance on social and economic justice issues.

Because of this, Suarez said, it has become increasingly difficult to secure the same level of grant funding from state government institutions they have relied on in the past.

“We believe the issues we focus on affect our society as a whole and are not partisan; issues such as racism, poverty, a just economy, and workers’ rights. More than ever, we count on individual donations to help our work continue and grow.

MAKE A DONATION

“With your help, we can be a catalyst to help Missouri workers and their families in our fight for survival and change over the next two years,” Suarez added.

You can help Bread & Roses grow by making a meaningful, continuing commitment to Bread & Roses Missouri. Whether it is $5, $10 or $20 a month, sustaining members can ensure the group of talented unionists is able to deliver on its mission.

Visit breadandrosesmo.org/donate to make a recurring donation or a one-time gift.

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