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Immigrant girls' tragic lives explored in Triangle

Internationally renowned playwright Laurie Brooks brings the saga of immigrant girls then and now to Phoenix audiences in the world premiere of Triangle.

Photo by Tim Trumble.

March 13, 2008

The world premiere of Triangle by award-winning playwright Laurie Brooks, commissioned by the ASU Herberger College School of Theatre and Film as a play for youth and adults, opens at the Lyceum theatre March 28. 

This compelling drama links a girl who toiled and ultimately died in an infamous garment district sweatshop fire 100 years ago to a contemporary Mexican immigrant who is struggling to find meaning in her own life. As the dead girl unfurls her tale of sweatshop drudgery, dreams lost and struggle for survival, immigrant experiences from then and now are contrasted and compared.

Triangle is set against the historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911, which remained the worst workplace disaster in New York City until Sept. 11, 2001. Some 148 workers, mostly immigrant girls and women, died in the blaze, which led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Playwright Laurie Brooks is renowned internationally for her work in children’s theater. Currently professor and playwright in residence at New York University’s program in Educational Theatre and The Coterie in Kansas City, Missouri, her many works include The Wrestling Season, featured at New Visions 2000: One Theatre World at The Kennedy Center and printed in The American Theatre, November, 2000; Deadly Weapons, with Graffiti Theatre Company, Cork, Ireland, in 1998, which was nominated for a Leon Rabin Award for best new play in Dallas, 2002; The Tangled Web, which won the AT&T Firststage Award from Theatre Communications Group; and Everyday Heroes, commissioned and premiered by The Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration and Salt Lake City in conjunction with the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

The premiere of Triangle marks Brooks' second collaboration with the School of Theatre and Film. The artist will participate in an interactive forum following each performance of the ASU world premiere of Triangle.

Triangle is directed by ASU alumnus Gary Minyard, associate director of education at Phoenix Theatre and Artistic Director of Greasepaint Youtheatre. Minyard holds an MFA from ASU’s renowned Theatre for Youth program and he also directed the U.S. premiere of Laurie Brooks’ The Lost Ones in the 2006-07 at MainStage Theatre season. The play’s nonlinear form and innovative use of movement and sound reinforces the School of Theatre and Film's experimental aesthetic.

“We knew we wanted to include a play in our season that would appeal to a broad age range and even, perhaps, be used as the cornerstone of a partnership with the public school system,” says Linda Essig, director of the School of Theatre and Film. “We are devoted to new work development within its community of students and faculty, so why not support the development of a new play that would meet the educational needs of our students while enriching the cultural fabric of the Valley?” The play was works hopped this past fall during the School of Theatre and Film's annual Festival of New Work.

This production was made possible in part through the support of the Arizona Commission on the Arts with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the ASU Foundation through the Smith Family Visiting Artist Endowment.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Building, also known as the Asch building, survives today and is a National Historic Landmark.

Lyceum Theatre, 901 S. Forest Mall, ASU Tempe campus

March 28-29 & April 3-5, 7:30 p.m.; March 30 & April 6, 2 p.m.

$7-$22; Buy-one, Get-one free on the first Friday of any MainStage production. ASU faculty members get two-for-one tickets for any performance except opening night.

Public Contact
Herberger College box office, 480.965.6447
School of Theatre and Film, 480.965.5337

The School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University provides a comprehensive range of courses in performance and directing; design and production; new work development; theatre and performance studies; film; and theatre for youth. Its Theatre for Youth program is nationally ranked in the top three and the dramatic writing/playwriting program is ranked 15th among public institutions by U.S.News & World Report. To learn more about the School of Theatre and Film, visit

Media Contact:
Laurie A. Trotta Valenti
School of Theatre and Film