4-17-21 BERTHA, THE SEWING MACHINE GIRL on the Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 03:19 pm EDT 04/14/21

by Charles Foster

In Honor of Women's History, Labor Rights, and Theater

April 17, 2021 at 8 pm

Obie Award winner Metropolitan Playhouse presents a new free "screened"
reading, so enormous it must be presented over two weekends,
live-streamed at no charge, with its groundbreaking, signature visual
wizardry, and a talkback to follow: BERTHA, THE SEWING MACHINE GIRL - Part
One, by Charles Foster.

4/17/2021 at 8:00 pm (Eastern) through 4/22/2021 at 10:00 pm
(Eastern) Running Time: 1 hour Free of charge Available at:

The video will be available through Wednesday, 4/22/21 on the
Playhouse webpage, the Metropolitan Playhouse YouTube channel, and
the Metropolitan Playhouse Facebook page. Part Two of the play will
run from April 24 to April 28, 2021

The model of virtue and integrity, Bertha Bascomb toils as a sewing
machine operator for the condescending Miss Pinch, the strict Mr. Carson,
and his lustful son, Joe. She would leave for greener pastures, but not
without her father's consent and her withheld wages. Little does she
know, envious Lizette--another sewing machine girl--and avaricious
Carter--who holds secrets of Bertha's past--have worse plans for her than
a life of drudgery. Her only salvation may be a drunken wastrel whose
life she must turn around if she hopes to get out of the sweatshop, stay
out of prison, and keep out of wedlock. Leave it to BERTHA, THE SEWING
MACHINE GIRL. Springing from the maudlin pages of the "The New York
Weekly" onto the stage of the Bowery Theater in 1871, BERTHA, THE SEWING
MACHINE GIRL was a social cause brought to life, and she thrived for the
last three decades of the 19th century. She found life again in a new
version in 1906 and in 1939 through the powerful International Ladies
Garment Workers Union on their Labor Stage as "Pins and Needles." The
popularity of the play attests to the enduring appeal of the sincere if
broad renderings of human conflicts and aspirations, as well as the
essential truths at the play's heart: the just are bedeviled by the
selfish, the fortunate by the resentful, the powerless by the powerful,
and chance plays a far greater role in our day-to-day then we wish. At
this moment of serious inquiry into social inequities, this high dudgeon
melodrama speaks more clearly and truthfully than it has for years.
Metropolitan's reading embraces the promise of the two-dimensional drama
with all the glories of two-dimensional "staging" that the company has
magically embraced over the course of the pandemic.

Discussion including audience participation follows the reading with Kim
Miller, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at The University of the

The production features a cast of 14 under the direction of Artistic
Director, Alex Roe, and includes Becca Ballenger, Craig Anthony Bannister,
John Blaylock, Diego Carvajal, Margaret Catov, Linus Gelber, Tyler Kent,
Peter Loureiro, Beethovan Oden, Madelynn Poulson, David Logan Rankin, Jay
Romero, Hannah Sharafian, and Tom Staggs. Graphic Art by Medusa Studio.

CHARLES FOSTER (1833 - 1895) was an actor/playwright who thrived in the
end of the 19th century. His scores of plays typically debuted at the
Bowery Theater, but they were designed to rampage through provincial
theaters across the growing nation. Works included NECK AND NECK (1870),
with a sensational railroad scene, and FATE (1872), in which one actor
played eight roles.

Photo: Madelynn Poulson is Bertha, the Sewing Machine Girl

Metropolitan presents readings every Saturday at 8 pm, Eastern Time, and
varied programing every other Wednesday evening as part of The Wednesday

April 14, 2021
"The Past is Present"
A panel discussion of the inspiration and challenges to be found in works
of the past featuring Diego Carvajal, Rachael Langton, Melissa Maxwell,
Alex Roe, and Amanda Vincenti

April 24, 2021
by Charles Foster
High melodrama on the little screen

May 1, 2021
Two tales told by Michèle LaRue

The VIRTUAL PLAYHOUSE began on March 28, 2020, and has evolved in the year to be a video/stage hybrid that far exceeds the expectations of online readings. Exploring the possibilities of "remote" ensemble, Metropolitan has pushed the envelope of Zoom broadcasts, with increasingly sophisticated virtual settings and sound design. Each reading is enhanced by conversation with the artists and a guest scholar for an hour-long live entertainment every Saturday night. Reaching an audience across the country and around the globe, the presentation of the forgotten one-act plays is an ideal way to pursue the theater's mission exploring America's diverse theatrical history.

METROPOLITAN PLAYHOUSE, in its 29th season, explores America’s diverse theatrical heritage through lost plays of the past and new plays of American historical and cultural moment. The theater received a 2011 OBIE Grant from The Village Voice for its ongoing productions that illuminate who we are by revealing where we have come from. Called ""invaluable"" by the Voice, Backstage and Talkin' Broadway, Metropolitan has earned further accolades from The New York Times and The New Yorker. Other awards include a Victorian Society of New York Outstanding Performing Arts Group, 3 Aggie Awards from Gay City News, 21 nominations for NYIT Awards (3 winners), and 6 AUDELCO Viv Award nominations.

ARTISTS' RELIEF The Playhouse's virtual readings serve to help us compensate performing artists, so particularly hurt during this long ""pause."" Information about the theater's ARTISTS RELIEF FUND may be found at www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/covidaid
Link http://www.MetropolitanPlayhouse.org/watchchipwomansfortune

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