Jeremy Harmon: Local Artist Inspired by Joe Hill

Plan-B Theatre’s world premiere of Debora Threedy’s ONE BIG UNION celebrates the impact and music of Joe Hill. The run is sold out (scroll to the bottom for wait list information). Jeremy Harmon is Director of Photography for The Salt Lake Tribune and a walking JoRegistere Hill encyclopedia. He gave the ONE BIG UNION cast, director and playwright a 4-hour tour of historical sites related to the play, and is one of the folks behind the Joe Hill website hosted by the Tribune. Register for Jeremy’s free lecture on Joe Hill on Monday, November 14.   What drew you to Joe Hill? I’m a music junkie and a history nerd. I had been aware of Joe Hill for quite some time because of his place in American folk music. That being said, my interest in Hill’s story really picked up when I read William Adler’s book “The Man Who Never Died.” I was amazed that all these dramatic events took place in Salt Lake City and that I hadn’t ever learned that much about them. After reading that book I bought the Folkways album of Hill’s songs that was produced by Lori Taylor. I also started looking for photos of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) activities in Utah. Because of my job at The Salt Lake Tribune, I was curating a weekly gallery of historic images for the paper’s website and I thought it would be really interesting to do one on the IWW. Initially I was really surprised by how little information was available, and forget about finding photos. There just aren’t any. As I learned more about the history of the...

Mark Hofeling: Local Artist Inspired by Joe Hill

Plan-B Theatre’s world premiere of Debora Threedy’s ONE BIG UNION celebrates the impact and music of Joe Hill. The initial run November 10-20 is sold out so we’ve added two performances on Sunday, November 13 and Sunday, November 20, both at 5:30pm) that go on this morning – Happy Halloween! Click here to purchase) . Over the past two years, two large-scale public art pieces have come to life in Salt Lake City. Last week, we chatted with Joshua & Heidi Belka, creators of the Joe Hill mural on Ken Sanders Rare Books. This week, we chat with Mark Hofeling who, along with Christian England, co-created the sculpture “10,000 Years of Labor in Utah” in the Central 9th Neighborhood. Tell us a little about yourself as an artist. I am a film and television production designer with almost 30 years in the business. While I have lived and worked in many cities in my career, I have made Salt Lake City my permanent home. Part of making peace with the hometown I used to want to flee from was embracing its true self, its actual history. Oddly enough, part of that embrace began unintentionally on a trip to visit a pen pal in Leningrad in the waining months of the USSR. What drew you to Joe Hill? In the hallway of a Russian government building we were gazing at portraits of the founders and heroes of socialism. Marx, Lenin, Engels, etc. But there was a man in a hat I had never seen before. My host was baffled that I had never heard of the man, seeing as that I was from Utah. It was...

Joshua & Heidi Belka: Local Artists Inspired by Joe Hill

Plan-B Theatre’s world premiere of Debora Threedy’s ONE BIG UNION (opening November 10-20, only 70 tickets remain for the run of the show as of this posting – click here to purchase) celebrates the impact and music of Joe Hill. Over the past two years, two large-scale public art pieces have come to life in Salt Lake City. This week, we chat with Joshua & Heidi Belka, creators of the Joe Hill mural on Ken Sanders Rare Books. Tell us a little about yourselves as artists. As artists we mostly just dabble. We also compose and play / sing for a band called Socialists. By trade we are union stagehands where collectively we are a seamstress, pyrotechnician, carpenter and entertainment riggers. What drew you to Joe Hill? Our interest in socialist / communist / anarchist ideas and U.S. labor history naturally led us to Joe Hill. As musicians we have used some of Joe’s lyrics. [You’re listening to “Joe Hill” by Socialists right now!] How was the original mural destroyed and how did the new one came to life on Ken Sanders Rare Books? As members of IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees] Local 99, we sought and received permission from the membership at a monthly meeting to do some murals of labor activists on the south side of our union hall. As examples, we provided some portraits of Joe Hill and Emma Goldman that we had done. The only stipulation from the membership was “no hammer and sickle.” We complied and finished the mural in advance of the Joe Hill centennial celebration. The mural included the famous verse from “Workers...

Ten things playwright Debora Threedy wants you to know about Joe Hill before ONE BIG UNION opens November 10

Playwright Debora Threedy returns to Plan-B with ONE BIG UNION, where she has premiered her plays THE END OF THE HORIZON, WALLACE and THE THIRD CROSSING at Plan-B. THE END OF THE HORIZON and ONE BIG UNION were workshopped as part of Utah Shakespeare Festival’s New American Playwrights Project and THE THIRD CROSSING won the Fratti-Newman Political Play Contest. Her short play THE TIGERS OF AKANUMA premiered as part of SHADOWS OF THE BAKEMONO (Meat & Potato Theatre) and her play DESERT WIFE toured Utah for more than a year.  ONE BIG UNION celebrates the impact and music of Joe Hill. So we asked Debora to share ten things she wants you to know about him before you see the play. 1. Joe Hill was born Joel Hagglund (pronounced HEG-looned) in 1879 in Gavle, Sweden, and emigrated to America in 1902. The house where he was born serves today both as the branch office of a Swedish union and as the Joe Hill Museum, which draws 15,000 visitors a year. 2. His father was a railroad man and, when Hill was seven, his father was knocked under an engine, suffering severe internal injuries. Despite this, he never sought medical treatment until a year later, when the chronic pain became unbearable; he died on the operating table. His death threw the family into acute poverty; Hill left school at twelve and went to work in a rope factory. 3. In 1896, when he was seventeen, he developed splotches on the side of his nose and his wrist that were diagnosed as tuberculosis of the skin, a then often fatal disease; after four...

Announcing the 2016/17 Season

The 2016/17 season explores what it means to speak the truth, featuring world premieres by four Utah playwrights. Subscriptions are $53 and include ONE BIG UNION by Debora Threedy, VIRTUE by Tim Slover and NOT ONE DROP by Morag Shepherd. THE EDIBLE COMPLEX by Melissa Leilani Larson is available as an add-on for $6. Click here to subscribe. ONE BIG UNION | a world premiere by Debora Threedy |  November 10-20, 2016 Joe Hill was executed in 1915 by the state of Utah for a murder he may or may not have committed. Considered a martyr by organized labor, Joe Hill’s songs envisioned gender and racial equality and criticized the gross income disparities of his time. Joe Hill remains an enigmatic folk hero but beyond the mythology lies a larger story of protest through music, more relevant than ever a century after his death. From the author of THE END OF THE HORIZON, WALLACE and THE THIRD CROSSING. A play with music featuring Daniel Beecher, Carleton Bluford, Roger Dunbar, April Fossen, Tracie Merrill and Jay Perry. Musically directed by David Evanoff, choreographed by Stephanie Howell, directed by Jason Bowcutt.   VIRTUE | a world premiere by Tim Slover | February 16-26, 2017 Poet, composer, writer, herbologist, midwife and Christian mystic, Abbess Hildegard would have been a revolutionary now as well as in the Twelfth Century when she lived. Her vigorous, otherworldly life raises profound questions: In a battle between spiritual conviction and institutional rules, which should win? What counts for more: theology or experience? And especially, who may we love? A play with music featuring Jay Perry, Shane Rogers, Emilie Eileen Starr and...

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