What we do is who we are. Or, is who we are why we do what we do? “Working 2020” tells the stories of people whose lives have been changed by what they wound up doing, some well-planned careers, some totally by accident or as a means to an end. All these varied and vividly told stories are profoundly moving moments in lives of those as average and extraordinary as any of us.

Bobby Moresco’s Actors Gym is the magical place that birthed these everyday and important tales. The stories developed by him and the actors take us to every part of America and to many sad and sorry aspects of the human condition. But it’s not all heartbreaking, some of these stories are as uplifting as any I have seen.

There’s a truck driving woman whose struggle to prove her worth to herself and to her late father brings her to the sweet, but hard fought epiphany that she is perfect and need do nothing to prove that to anyone. A young waitress whose desperation to live by her own rules brings her perilously close to disaster, but whose courage inspires a multitude. A rookie firefighter whose instinct to run leaves him alive but alone. An aging hospital orderly whose pride in his life humbles those around him. A man whose mental health has plagued him all his life who finally finds solace and relief. A neighborhood hairdresser, always wishing she could have a ‘bigger’ life realizing the profundity of her contribution to her world. A mother whose autistic son teaches her that the greatest gifts might not always come neatly wrapped. A writer whose first real job is in the dodgy, pornographic edges of the entertainment industry, proves to herself that if she can write ‘that stuff’ she can write anything. The incarcerated drug dealer whose fall from grace left his mother broken and alone, touches us deeply with his regret. And finally a steel worker, so tired of the shafting of the American working class and the destruction of the unions, calls for us all to rise up and stand together against the money machine.

The cast is on stage throughout the entire play, and that gives their words even more gravitas somehow, as if they too bear witness to each other’s precious place in the world. There is something extremely powerful about a group of people sitting together in the darkness really hearing each other as these phenomenal actors breathe truth into the characters and that truth turns the theatre into a church.

When theatre is at its best it can change us, challenge us and unite us. “Working 2020” is like that. Inspired by Studs Terkel’s book “Working,” these beautiful stories developed, written and directed by the members of the Actor’s Gym resonate with the complex sacredness of humanity, sharing the deepest part of who we truly are, good, bad, ashamed and glorious.

We have a primal need to share stories. Before there were gods there were paintings on caves and late nights around fires and the repeated histories of our lives. What we do is important and the older I get the more I realize that more than money or shelter or impressive stuff, we need to feel connected to each other and to have peace with what we contribute to the world. This play is a celebration of that and of the people who we barely notice as we rush around being busy. The people whose lives are what keep the lights on and the coffee brewing and the pain a little less. The play reminds us that these small and purposeful things we do to make each other’s lives better are in the end, the most important things we will ever do.

I highly recommend “Working 2020” at the wonderful Whitefire Theatre…don’t dawdle, the run is short playing only Friday nights at 8 pm through May 10.

Written by

Cast: Tom Bower, Tonya Cornelisse, Anne DeSalvo. Elizabeth Grullon, Michael Pare, Thomas Polanski, Goya Robles, Pauline Schantzer, Allan Steele, Joseph Lyle Taylor, and Maureen Teefy.

Conceived by Bobby Moresco, developed and directed by members of Bobby Moresco’s Actor’s Gym. Produced by Bobby Moresco, Bryan Rasmussen and Steven Christopher Parker.

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