Between the Canals: The Evolution of a Mill Town
Written by: Priscilla Kane Hellweg, Rachel Kuhn and Steven Angel
BETWEEN THE CANALS: The Evolution of a Mill Town is a Living Museum-styled theater production, which ECT premiered in 2001 and performed on-site in the historic Lyman Mill, now known as Open Square. Back by popular demand, we have re-envisioned the play so it can now tour to any location.
In BETWEEN THE CANALS, the audience is transported back in time, from present day Holyoke to the mid-1800s.Through a series of vignettes, live music and a dramatic slide show, the audience witnesses the building of the 1,000 foot dam across the Connecticut River; French-Canadian children leaving their family farm to work in the mills; Irish and Canadian children working 14 hours a day in a textile mill; a Labor Union meeting where they draft a resolution to improve working conditions; and Susan B. Anthony speaking from the steps of the new Holyoke City Hall.
The play ends back in present day, as a young Puerto Rican child prepares for her first day of school in her new home. BETWEEN THE CANALS offers a message of hope for the future, based in the harsh realities and personal triumphs of the past.
BETWEEN THE CANALS addresses many curriculum topics within the Massachusetts Curriculum frameworks, specifically, Immigration, the Industrial Revolution, Unions and Child Labor, Health and Epidemics, and the Suffragist Movement. The play can act as a catalyst for discussion at the start of a curriculum unit, or the culminating event at the end. ©2002
A corresponding workshop on CULTURAL HERITAGE is available for teachers and students in grades 4-12.
“I like the way you presented the feeling of immigration. We had just talked about Ellis Island in class, and for a minute I could close my eyes and picture the people there while the actors talked. You made this so authentic.” ~5th grade student, Northampton, MA
For more information or to inquire about availability,
email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (413) 534-3789.
“I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I felt like quitting lots of times, and I’ve never been so proud of myself as I was today after our performance.”
~ 7th grade student, Springfield