The Play ‘Working’ Depicts Hopes and Fears of Workers

Photo Credit / ESU Insider "Working" expresses the pride workers have at the end of the day.

Amanda Berry

Staff Writer

Before Thanksgiving break, ESU’s students and theater department put on a showing on Working from the book by Steven Terkel. Working portrays the lives of everyday working citizens in America, from big-time company CEOs to waiters, and housewives.

The play had no intermission and didn’t have a giant plot or storyline. Instead, each of the performers acted out professions and sang songs about their struggles, joys, and fears from their jobs. The underlying message of all these small acts was that everyone wants to have something they can call their own, and something to be proud of.

Terkel interviewed all kinds of workers when he was writing his book, and although they have different jobs one thing was clear about all of them, they worked hard. There were stories in the play from fireman saving people, receptionists, teachers, and even truck drivers. Each of them told their story about how long and how hard their workday can be.

One story was of a woman who worked in a factory with big machines all day long. The work was strenuous and tedious, and extremely repetitive. Often she would spend the day daydreaming about her life back home on the farm with her parents. Another story was of a man who quit the police force and became a fireman.

When he was a cop, he felt like people feared him and all he wanted to do was help people, so he became a fireman. Someone who still does as much work as a policeman, but gets more recognition and praise of civilians. Each of the performers portrayed all kinds of people so everyone had something to relate to.

There were stories from young people just starting out in their jobs, and older people who’ve had their job for many years, as well as retired people and stay at home mothers.

Although Terkel originally wrote the book in the early 1970s, the themes and stories still apply to American society today. People still have all different kinds of jobs and have their own struggles, wants and needs.

The important message is that despite these differences, everyone can come together at the end of the day and be proud of their work, and have something to show their children, and their children’s children and so on.

All of the performances at ESU can be found online at ESU’s website by searching the theater department. The showtime and ticket prices are also available for all future shows as well as being able to purchase tickets in advance online.

For any further questions contact the department chair Dr. Margaret Ball at

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