It's 1909 and the shirtwaist industry in New York is making profits of $50 million. But the young girls who work in the factories earn barely enough to live on, and their working conditions are brutal. When their pleas for help are rejected by the male-dominated union, the young girls who work at Johannsen's Shirtwaist Factory band together to fight for a better life. They endure beatings, starvation and even prison but ultimately prevail, as the shirtwaist girls win the first industry-wide strike in American labor history. However the girls' real victory is in changing the way they see themselves—not as victims, but as fighters—and in discovering the power of sisterhood.
- Type of Show Full-length Play
- Product Code TC7000
- Cast Size 8
- Min. Royalty Rate $100/perf
- Cost $10.95
- Approx. Run Time 75 min
- Target Audience High School | College and Adult
- Performing Group High School | College Theatre | Community Theatre | Professional Theatre
- Genre Drama | Melodrama
- ISBN(13) 9780871299970
- "This is an awesome and powerful show. My students loved digging into the history behind the play and honestly representing the struggles that the shirtwaist workers went through."
- Review by Irene Miller, Crystal Sea Drama Company, San Antonio, Texas
- "A tight production with plenty of information about the strike thanks to the monologues. Playing time was just over 90 minutes with no slow spots in the show. This was an excellent production, well written!"
- Review by Mark Nelson, Collinsville High School Thespians, Collinsville, IL
- "To See the Stars was a beautifully written historical account of women standing up for equal rights and proving their ability to get the job done."
- Review by Donna Bialkin, Westwood High School, Township of Washington, NJ
- "Excellent, moving -- an exceptional vehicle for true educational theatre -- I loved the flexibility of the cast size!"
- Review by Bobbi Wolf, Bala Cynwyd Middle School, Bala Cynwyd, PA
- "This is a beautifully written, easy to produce play with a wonderfully inspiring message. My middle schoolers LOVED it."
- Review by Donna Steele, Thompson Middle School, St. Charles, IL
- "This play was a very interesting project. While studying the struggles of these girls, most of them teenagers, the students and I gained a deeper appreciation for the social freedoms and each of the basic rights that we often take for granted."
- Review by M. Horvath, Chardon High School, Chardon, OH
- "This was a wonderful play to do with 8th graders, because of the issues of standing up for what you believe inÑthat it matters to speak out against what is unfair and unjust. We were able to have very spirited discussions about the times and how what was happening in the play still exists."
- Review by Lisa Doron, West Marin School, Point Reyes, Calif.
- "This was a fine play with strong characters—especially female! To See the Stars was a moving presentation that upheld the values of courage, strength, cooperation from an historical perspective. It was an outstanding selection experience for both the actors and the audience."
- Review by Elizabeth Lowrey, Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii
- "To See the Stars was a landmark production for us. It included a wider spectrum of our diverse student body, in both the cast and audience, than any production we've mounted. Because I was able to describe how the play evolved at the Bonderman Symposium, it also established an interest in my students in new plays."
- Review by John Newman, Highland High School, Salt Lake City, Utah
- "To See the Stars was a powerful drama that my students thoroughly enjoyed acting in and producing. I ended up putting 35 in the cast. Everyone learned about history and, moreover, identified with the plights of the characters."
- Review by Cory R. Ward, Mt. Vernon High School, Mt. Vernon, Ohio
- "A fantastic play for middle (and high) school. A real ensemble show, with characters that challenged our actors at appropriate levels. The production was well received by faculty and parents. I liked that it strayed from straight realism just enough to introduce the students to some new styles of theatre."
- Review by Kristin Hall, Lincoln Public School, Lincoln, Mass.
- "We were very pleased to be able to produce this play on the 100th anniversary of the actual event depicted in the play (the 1909 New York shirtwaist garment workers strike). I can highly recommend this script for any company looking for a powerful drama with a large number of strong characters."
- Review by Lee Cork, Carsonville-Port Sanilac High School, Carsonville, Mich.
- "This show's impact has affected my actors and community to its core! To this day [several years later], I have people coming to me and speaking of its impact!"
- Review by Jennifer Repinski, Flood Brook Union School, Londonderry, Vt.
Hints, Tips, and Tricks
- "Try to make your transitions between scenes and sections of scenes as quick as possible, so that you don't lose the momentum that has been built."
- Tip by Irene Miller, Crystal Sea Drama Company, San Antonio, Texas
- "We did this us with a minimalistic set. We used two different platform levels, plus the stage floor, to delineate different places. I felt that the suggested sound effects and lighting effect had a big impact in underscoring the themes of the show."
- Tip by Dawn Coyan, Manteca High School, Manteca, Calif.
- "It can be performed successfully with simple pieces of stage furniture—stools, a table, etc."
- Tip by Elizabeth Lowrey, Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii