Arts and Labor

Dorothea Lange is perhaps most famous for a single photograph she took in 1936. In it a mother turns her weary gaze away from the camera, while two of her children bury their faces against her shoulders. In one fell swoop, Lange put a human face on the plight of migrant farmworkers in California at the time and gave us an image that still resonates in today's difficult economy. Lange took that picture on assignment for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), President Roosevelt's innovative agency that sought to create jobs during the Great Depression and funded new bridges and murals alike. Playwrights had their own WPA division with the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), and notable participants included Orson Welles and Arthur Miller. The contributions of female FTP writers in particular are commemorated in the contemporary one-act play Mixed Relief, performed tonight as a staged reading by members of the arts union Actors' Equity Association. Focusing on Anzia Yezierska, Eudora Welty, and Dorothy West, Mixed Relief brings their work together with that of three women who are present-day stage professionals. All proceeds go to the Actors Fund, an organization that jumps in when actors (who as a group often find themselves firmly amongst the 99 percent) need a wee bit of help. The performance is also part of our local LaborFest, celebrating union history and revolutionary artists with a theme this year of "Occupy Past, Present & Future." We think Dorothea Lange would approve.
Mon., July 23, 7:30 p.m., 2012

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