Strike's Winnipeg premiere in May 2005
|Basis||History of the Winnipeg General Strike|
|Productions||2005 Rainbow Stage, Winnipeg
Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon
Strike! is a musical depicting the Winnipeg General Strike. It has been adapted into a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio production and a 17-minute short film meant to solicit interest in producing a feature film.
Strike focuses on Mike Sokolowski, a Ukrainian immigrant from Galicia who was killed by Royal Northwest Mounted Police on "Bloody Saturday", 21 June 1919. The account of his life is heavily fictionalized, and is character is composited with another Ukrainian-Canadian labourer. Sokolowski begins the play as an anti-Semite who loathes so-called Jewish Bolshevism, but learns better due in part to a romantic sub-plot involving his godson Stefan (originally Myron) and his Jewish neighbour Rebecca.
Performances and adaptations
After two private workshops in 2003, a public outdoor "preview" of Strike! was performed at Old Market Square in Winnipeg on May 15, 2004. In May, 2005, the full play was premiered at Winnipeg's Kildonan Park Stage (aka Rainbow Stage) as an independent production. The next fall, a re-vamped version premiered at Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre. On 15 May 2007, a special performance at the Burton Cummings Theatre was recorded for national broadcast on CBC Radio. The theatre was chosen in part because it had been used as a meeting-place for labour activists prior to the 1919 strike. The radio adaptation was broadcast on Labour Day, 3 September 2007. In May, 2009, an outdoor, street spectacle version of the musical premiered in front of City Hall in Winnipeg - site of the original events that inspired the musical. Summer productions of the full-scale musical were held at the Canwest Centre for the Performing Arts in July/August 2009 and 2010. The Edmonton premiere of the musical occurred on April 24, 2013 in conjunction with Workshop West Theatre, at the Timms Centre for the performing arts.
A book based on Strike! was released by Playwrights Canada Press on 10 December 2007.
A 17-minute film adaptation of Strike! was produced in 2007 - meant to solicit interest in producing a feature film, now planned for filming in Winnipeg in 2014. Excerpts from the short film are viewable on YouTube.
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Strike was primarily financed by a limited partnership of investors from across Canada, with a mix of arts grants and donations from Canadian labour unions.
Cast and crew
Strike was created by Danny Schur, who wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the text with Rick Chafe.
Original (2005) cast
- Catherine Wreford as Rebecca Almazoff
- Jay Brazeau as Mike Sokolowski
- Marc Devigne as Myron Dudar
- David Friedman as Moishe Almazoff
- Christopher Ryan as Senator Gideon Robertson
Radio (2007) cast
- Jeff Skinner as Mike Sokolowski
- Marc Devigne as Stefan Dudar
- Adrienne Merrell as Rebecca Almazoff
- Kevin Aichele as Senator Robertson
- Vancouver Sun: Strike! works for radio special, 27 August 2007
- The Ukrainian Weekly (Ottawa): Ukrainian Canadian's musical dramatizes Winnipeg General Strike, 5 June 2005
- Winnipeg Labour Council website: STRIKE New Musical Celebrates the Winnipeg Strike of 1919, 12 May 2005
- National Union of Public and General Sector Employees website: New musical celebrates the Winnipeg Strike of 1919, 10 April 2005