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The Workers’ Theater Project

The Workers' Theater Project

Empowering workers by creating great theater

The Workers’ Theater Project creates original performances for and about working people. We produce original plays like our upcoming production of 1877 by Colin McLaughlin, about the St. Louis General Strike of 1877, and our recent radio play, Mrs. Palmer’s Honey by Cassandra Medley, about the home front struggles of Black St. Louisans to gain the right to defense jobs during World War II.



In post-Civil War St. Louis industry is booming, but workers aren’t getting a fair deal from the bosses. Longshoreman Jonah must decide–join the growing strike, or stay on the job so he can continue to provide for his younger sister Eleanor, the only family he’s got right now.

1877  by St. Louis playwright Colin McLaughlin depicts the incredible true story of the St. Louis General Strike of 1877, the only strike of its kind to happen in the United States before or since.

Told with six actors playing dozens of characters and featuring music from the era, 1877 reveals an important and largely untold history of St. Louis and the Labor Movement that still resonates today.

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Past Workers Theater Projects:

Jailbird by Colin McLaughlin

Jail Bird, Workers Theater Project by Colin McLaughlin

In November 2019, Bread and Roses presented the premiere of Jailbird, an original play based on a true story of Eugene V. Debs at Missouri History Museum. In 1920, Eugene Victor Debs ran a campaign for the US presidency- from a federal prison cell. He was imprisoned for his outspoken objection to the violence and chaos of WWI. Debs ended up receiving a million votes, and 100 years later, his revelations on our society, economy, prison system, and the nature of war, are strikingly relevant.

Jailbird played to capacity crowds and received excellent reviews.

Mrs. Palmer’s Honey by Cassandra Medley, adapted from the novel by Fannie Cook.

It is well known that, During World War Two, American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers as widespread male enlistment left gaping holes in the industrial labor force. However, what is little known is the home front struggles that African American women and men undertook to gain the right to those defense jobs. This is a struggle that sparked what would become the contemporary American civil rights movement of the 20th century.

In St. Louis Missouri, circa 1943, 23 year old house maid Honey Hoop is drawn into such a struggle despite her determination to avoid trouble . . .

Originally scheduled for 2020 as a live stage production, Mrs. Palmer’s Honey made a pandemic pivot and was recorded as a radio play aired on KDHX. Find it at or on Spotify.

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