“This book being about work is, by its nature about violence – to the spirit as well as to the body”
Studs Terkel’s lengthy introduction to his 1972 best-selling book Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do is anything but subtle, coming across more of a political manifesto than a book of interviews however his powerful few sentences creates a striking image of the world of work and perfectly sets up Terkel’s examination of ‘work’ in the by documenting conversations with working professionals from all walks of life.
Terkel’s novel is an investigation of what work means to different people in different circumstances scrutinizing the mundane details, emotional truths of the working individual. The parking valet, the waitress, the fireman, the business executive; each with a different interpretation of ‘Work’, each with their different goals and motivations. As Lin-Manuel Miranda remarks on Terkel’s work, it “reminds us that we are much more than our jobs” that we are not defined by this and although we may all have a different job that needs doing, we are all also human.
“It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around”
To adapt such a heavy and well respected text is no mean feat, but Terkel’s bestselling book was in reliable hands with Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso.
Schwartz has been no stranger to adapting literary works for the stage or the screen being best known for Wicked, the smash hit based on Gregory Maguire’s; Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of The West or his collaborations with composer Alan Menken for his work on Disney animated features including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas for which he was presented with two Academy Awards and a Grammy.
His writing partner Nina Faso has worked with Schwartz on multiple projects including Godspell, which would go on to win them multiple awards for their efforts. She would then go on to write the teleplay for the PBS series American Playhouse in 1982 (which featured Studs Terkel).
Although originally adapted by the team of Schwartz and Faso, this new realisation of the play has multiple contributing composers such as five-time Grammy Award winner James Taylor. Pulitzer Prize winner, Lin- Manuel Miranda best known for the record-breaking, Tony Award-winning musical, Hamilton. Director Luke Sheppard takes the helm of this new production, his previous works include In The Heights which also began its UK journey at the Southwark Playhouse.
Working will make its European premiere when it comes to the Southwark Playhouse at the beginning of June. With a strong creative team behind this new retelling its one you should be looking forward to. Not forgetting the incredible cast recently announced:
“It is above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for walking wounded among the great many of us”
Can’t wait to see Working? Or just procrastinating at work and need something to fill the hours?
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