Labor Mural: The play

Raise your hand if you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say the words “labor mural.”

A full-scale replica of the controversial 11-panel labor mural ordered removed from the Maine Department of Labor by Gov. Paul Lepage in March 2011 was displayed at the Blue Hill Public Library last fall. (BDN file photo by Mario Moretto)

Here’s one of our latest pieces on the mural, written by my colleague Matthew Stone, which includes plenty of background if you need to catch up. In a one run-on sentence round-up: Gov. Paul LePage about two years ago ordered the mural, which depicted scenes from Maine’s labor history, removed from where it was being displayed in the state’s Department of Labor headquarters, which touched off a firestorm of criticism from union supporters and artists, who sued to get it returned, but the courts said the governor was within his rights to move it, and last month he agreed to have it displayed again, but this time at the Maine State Museum.

There. Catch your breath.

Anyway, students at Portland’s Deering High School will be presenting an original one-act play about the controversial mural, titled “Tribute.”

(In a related note, as one great editor once pointed out to me, the correct verb there is “titled” not “entitled.” If one is “entitled,” that one deserves something. If one is “titled,” one is named something. I expect everyone to start using “entitled” correctly from now on. Anyway…)

The play was written by the school’s drama teacher Kathleen Harris, and is not intended to touch off a firestorm of its own. It does not mention LePage or the controversy surrounding the artwork, according to a news release issued by the Portland Public Schools. Rather, Harris uses Judy Taylor’s 11-panel mural as a framework through which characters act out those historic moments depicted.

Taylor, the district announced, “gave her enthusiastic support to the project and she plans to see the play.”

From the district announcement:

“Tribute” has 11 scenes, one for each panel of the mural, covering such topics as Rosie the Riveter, the first U.S. labor secretary, Frances Perkins, and the Jay paper mill strike. An apprentice and his mentor serve as the play’s narrators.

And for those like Taylor who would like to see the play performed:

Deering students will perform the play on March 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. Tickets are $5 and they may be purchased at the door. On the weekend of March 8, Deering students will present “Tribute” as part of a regional one-act competition at Thornton Academy.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.