University of Iowa Theatre Building — April 10-20 ($5-$17)
The theatre has provided a forum for exploring labor issues ever since the heyday of the “workers’ theatre” movement in the 1920s and ’30s. Many plays during this period were influenced by the theories of German playwright Bertolt Brecht, who believed that theatre should engage audiences intellectually in order to inspire them to act after the curtain falls. In 1935, Clifford Odets ended his play Waiting for Lefty by having the actors urge the audience to leave the theatre shouting, “Strike! Strike!”
UI Playwrights Workshop alumna Naomi Wallace gives the genre an update with her 1996 play, Slaughter City, an inventive and abstract comedic drama about workers at a meat packing plant. Their lives take a turn when a mysterious new coworker encourages them to rise up and protest against their unsafe working conditions. Using poetry, dark imagery and raw sexuality, Wallace provides a vivid commentary on the history of labor rights in the United States.
The University of Iowa Theatre Arts Department is presenting Slaughter City as part of the Series on Arts and Rights (SOAR), a year-long artistic initiative of the UI Center for Human Rights and the Division of Performing Arts. SOAR aims to present works that comment on human rights issues and the play is the last event in the series. Do not miss this opportunity to engage in dialogue about labor in the context of human rights — and whether the injustices of the past are in danger of repeating today.