Based on the memoir, Packinghouse Daughter by Cheri Register
Adapted for the stage by Eva Barr
Directed by Laura Leffler
An emotionally charged recounting of the turmoil in Albert Lea during the 1959 Wilson’s meatpacking strike as seen through the eyes of a teenager.
Eva Barr adapts Cheri Register's 2001 memoir about coming of age in Albert Lea, MN during the 1959 Wilson's meatpacking plant strike. The play spans the inciting moments of the strike to the violence and divisiveness that resulted, but it is Register's personal awakening to the meaning of class in her life as the daughter of a blue-collar worker that provides the universal hook.
In November, 1959, a worker on the sausage line at the Wilson plant in Albert Lea, MN, refused to stay and work overtime. His move catalyzed events that would lead to a national strike and to rifts between people in Albert Lea that still exist today. The script includes contemporary teenage inquiry to explore some of the social and economic divides that continue to confound rural America. As Register’s grandfather might have put it, class is one of those “disquieting” subjects that applies to us all.
Barr says, “I chose to adapt Packinghouse Daughter for the stage for a number of reasons: because Cheri Register’s voice is so clear and compelling that it’s a treat to work with her words; because she grew up in my hometown where incredible things happen every day; because it documents a sadly bygone era in Albert Lea’s history; because some people won’t pick up a book, but they might sit in an audience; because the subject-matter, meatpacking and growing up, will be relevant as long as we eat meat and grow up; because the book takes on essential questions of being ‘American,’ of being human, and takes us to places we might not go on our own.”
Bring to Class:
Location: Online via Zoom. Link and password will be sent on Thursday, October 1. Streaming of this presentation will be available from Friday, October 2 to Thursday, October 8.