By Linda Froehlich
“Princes become kings if they survive the challenges their princely souls draw towards them,” quoted Sir Mark Rylance, who in collaboration with Peter Reder, wrote Shakespeare & the Battle of Homestead.
On July 6, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the bitter industrial lockout, the Battle of the Homestead Foundation presented a one-night-only performance to a sold-out audience at the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead.
It was July 1892. Thousands of locked-out steelworkers of Carnegie Steel Works at Homestead confronted a private army of Pinkerton agents hired by plant manager Henry Clay Frick as the steel workers attempted to secure the mill property that came to be known as “Fort Frick.” What resulted from the most notorious upset in American labor history was a deadly massacre culminating in the deaths of seven steel workers and three Pinkerton detectives. As the title Shakespeare & the Battle of Homestead suggests, Rylance drew comparison between Hamlet and the Battle of Homestead as “the idea of princely consciousness inside each and all the protagonists involved in Homestead 1892, that being a keen sense of justice and injustice.” He concludes, “We all long for unity, whether within our community or ourselves.”
Twenty SAG-AFTRA members from the Ohio-Pittsburgh Local witnessed the production, which was still a work in progress, prior to joining the superb cast and crew for the evening's post party, held at Honest John's Restaurant in Homestead.
Comparable to Hamlet’s last wish for friends to tell his story, Rylance and friends gave due respect and honor to the fallen of the Homestead massacre by breathing the unforgettable story back to life.
Photo: Cast, crew and SAG-AFTRA members with Mark Rylance at the show’s after party at Honest John’s Restaurant in Homestead.