“Working”: A Musical For Today’s Job Market

Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, marks the opening of Jeffrey S. Miller’s tenth production to direct at Gordon when “Working—A Musical” takes the stage in the Barrington Center for the Arts. Miller, professor of theatre arts, was drawn to the musical based on a book by Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, interviewer and historian, in large part because of the issue of jobs and work in today’s economy and election.  “Working” includes a cast/crew of 15 students, three musicians and countless alumni and staff who’ve worked hard in the process. Miller’s own work includes directing credits such as Macbeth, Guys and Dolls, Shadowlands, Tartuffe, The Secret Garden, An Evening of Pinter,  Love’s Labour’s Lost, Joyful Noise, Into The Woods, Pirates of Penzance, and Growing Up Christians. Below are some of Miller’s directorial notes for the show. (Ticket and showtime information can be found HERE.)

Jeff Miller: “Work has been a major part of our national dialogue of late – certainly in the current presidential race. We have an odd and ambivalent relationship to work, don’t we? On the one hand, it’s something to avoid, to get done as quickly as possible, and, eventually, to retire from. On the other hand, it’s something we must have to survive; it gives our lives meaning. In our culture, we often define ourselves by our work.

“I’m not sure that ambivalence is so bad. Some of us are painfully aware of the extremes, whether too little or too much work. But it seems clear we are wired to find meaning in or as a result of our work. We want to provide for our families, to help others, to give something of value to society. Our work allows us to do those things. But it should not and cannot be everything to us.

“This musical, Working, based on the book by Studs Terkel,seeks to explore the many dimensions of work – the good, the bad, the confounding. In doing so, we hope it lays bare some of the hollow and insidious ways work can impact us. We hope it reveals our own insensitivity about others’ work. We hope it makes visible and gives dignity to the many people who serve us each day in ways we often fail to see. We hope it celebrates those who have labored on our behalf to make our lives better, especially our parents and those before them. We hope it resonates with the Old Testament reminder that finding satisfaction with work is a gift from God, as well as the New Testament exhortation to do all our work as if for the Lord. 

And no one could be more blessed than I am to do work that I love and in such a supportive place with such a gifted and energetic company of young artists. May you all find such meaning as you work in this community and beyond.”

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