Press Releases, 2017


THE HOMESTEAD STRIKE OF 1892 An original play in one act by Mark Clayton Southers
SEPTEMBER 15, 16, 22 AND 23. FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS, 7:00 PM
SEPTEMBER 22, 23. MATINEES, 2:00 PM
Contact: Lynne Squilla
412 381-8286
battleofhomestead@earthlink.net

PITTSBURGH, PA (AUGUST 9, 2017): THE DRAMATIC BATTLE OF HOMESTEAD COMES TO LIFE AS FORMER STEELWORKER AND PITTSBURGH PLAYWRIGHT MARK CLAYTON SOUTHERS STAGES HIS ORIGINAL ONE-ACT PLAY AT THE HISTORIC PUMP HOUSE IN MUNHALL, THE SCENE OF THE BATTLE’S FIERCEST CONFLICT. SIX PUBLIC PERFORMANCES RUN SEPTEMBER 15-23.

Mark Southers is no stranger to the heat and hard labor demanded of Pittsburgh’s mighty steel industry, having worked in the Edgar Thompson and Irvin works during his early career before becoming a playwright and stage director. He was profoundly moved by the stories surrounding the Homestead strike of 1892 when the Battle of Homestead Foundation commissioned him to write a play commemorating the 125th anniversary of this clash between steelworkers and mill owners. Southers’ The Homestead Strike of 1892 relives the moments before, during, and after that brutal conflict.

“I was in the steelworkers’ union 18-plus years, and it wasn’t until I began to research the Battle of Homestead that I really understood the sacrifices those workers and their neighbors made for the cause of labor and fair wages,” says Southers. “They may have lost that battle in 1892, but they set the precedent for working people, including African Americans, to demand their piece of prosperity!”
Cast to play the real-life characters in this American tragedy are favorite local actors Wali Jamal, Michael Sullivan, David Crawford, Mel Packer, Ken Champion, Marcus Muzapoppa, Sara Fisher-Ventura, Arjun Kumar, and Susan McGregor-Laine.
The Battle of Homestead began July 6, 1892, when thousands of locked-out steel workers and townspeople clashed with Pinkerton guards hired by Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie. It was a story reported around the world, as management fortified the steel mills and both sides fired guns and canons at each other. The Pinkertons surrendered and townsfolk, including women and children, rained blows upon them and tore their clothes, then burned the barges they floated in on. As the dispute smoldered, the National Guard was called in. Scab labor was recruited, and there was an attempt by anarchist Alexander Berkman to assassinate Frick. Ultimately, labor lost the battle, but the conflict has
been symbolic for labor / management disputes ever since.
The Homestead Strike of 1892 plays Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 15,16, 22, and 23 at 7:00 pm, with matinees Sept. 22 and 23 at 2:00 pm. The Pump House is located at 880 East Waterfront Drive, Munhall, PA 15120. TICKETS: $20 at eventbrite.com.

This play is part of a yearlong series of offerings to honor the Homestead battle and related history. Visit battleofhomestead.org for details. Events are funded in part by The Waterfront, The Rivers of Steel Heritage Area, United Steelworkers, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Mark Clayton Southers is an award winning playwright, photographer, scenic designer, theatrical producer and stage director; founder and producing artistic director of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company. Mr. Southers recently directed the jazz / R&B opera A Gathering of Sons for Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s 2017 season
and tours his Miss Julie, Clarissa and John at the National Black Theater Festival in North Carolina and The Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland in August. From 2010 to 2013, Mr. Southers served as the Artistic Director of Theatre Initiatives for the 486 seat August Wilson Center for African American Culture. More at markclaytonsouthers.com

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Battle of Homestead Foundation August Events Focus on Cultural Interpretations of Mon Valley Labor History

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2017

Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com

Pittsburgh, PA ― August events, organized by the Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF), focus on cultural interpretations of the 1892 Battle of Homestead and other episodes of labor history and class conflict in the Mon Valley’s steel mills.

“There is a rich body of art and storytelling that has developed over the past 125 years that interprets the history of the Mon Valley in some very interesting and often surprising ways,” BHF President John Haer said. “As part of our year-long commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Homestead, we’ll look at two examples: a classic Hollywood film, and a recent work of historical fiction.”

On Thursday, August 10, BHF will screen the 1945 film “The Valley of Decision” at the historic Pump House in Munhall. Based on the novel by Marcia Davenport, the story explores class tensions as Irish immigrant Mary Rafferty (Greer Garson) goes to work as a maid for the wealthy Scott family, who own the steel mill where Rafferty’s father (Lionel Barrymore) worked before he was injured on the job. Mary Rafferty soon falls for Paul Scott (Gregory Peck), the son of mill owner William Scott (Donald Crisp). Tensions come to a boil when the mill workers go on strike. (August 10, 7:00 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210. Free.)

On Saturday, August 26, BHF will host a talk by author Trilby Busch, whose novel “Darkness Visible: A Novel of the 1892 Homestead Strike,” recreates the experiences of the workers and townspeople who witnessed the strike and battle firsthand. Busch’s great-grandfather was killed in the Homestead Works in the immediate aftermath of the strike, and Busch will show how the novel weaves oral history and research into an insider’s view of the dramatic events unfolding in 1892. Descendants of members of the strike committee will also share their family stories. (August 26, 2:00 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210. Free.)

The events will be sponsored by the Battle of Homestead Foundation, with support from The Waterfront, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Rivers of Steel Heritage Area.

The Battle of Homestead Foundation is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle of Homestead with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has also been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to the 1877 Railroad Strike, the 1909 McKees Rocks Pressed Steel Car Strike, Mother Jones, Francis Perkins, and many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.

For more information: battleofhomestead@gmail.com, 412-478-5907, battleofhomestead.org.

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Events Featuring Actor Mark Rylance, Memorials, to Commemorate 125th Anniversary of the Battle of Homestead

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2017
Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com
Pittsburgh, PA ― The Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF) is organizing several events to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the historic Homestead lockout over the next three weeks, including two fundraisers featuring actor-activist-playwright Mark Rylance.
“The Battle of Homestead is perhaps the most important labor fight in US history in terms of its legacy and impact,” BHF President John Haer said. “In the decades that followed, workers were inspired by the stand that the Homestead mill employees and the local community took, and memory of how the Homestead workers were violently repressed informed labor struggles that would unfold over the coming decades, culminating in the unionization of not just much of the steel industry, but of many other industries as well.”
Events include:
Friday, June 30 7:00 pm: Meet and greet with guest of honor, actor-activist-playwright Mark Rylance. The Bost Building 623 East 8th Ave, Munhall. Mark Rylance was artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London from 1995–2005. He has acted on Broadway and is also known for his roles in films such as Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and The BFG. He stars in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, scheduled for release July 21. Sponsored by the Battle of Homestead Foundation, with support from The Waterfront, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the United Steelworkers, and Rivers of Steel Heritage Area. All proceeds benefit the non-profit Battle of Homestead Foundation. Tickets available at battleofhomestead.org. ($90)

Thursday, July 6 12:00 pm: Memorial for the Homestead Strikers. 125th Anniversary of July 6, 1892, Ceremony at the Gravesites. Homestead Cemetery, 22nd Ave. & Main St., Munhall (proceeding from Civil War statue).

Thursday, July 6, 2017, 7:30 pm: “Mark Rylance & Friends: Shakespeare and the 1892 Battle of Homestead,” at the Homestead Carnegie Library Music Hall, 510 E 10th Ave., Munhall. Actor-activist–playwright Mark Rylance will perform some favorite speeches from Shakespeare, as well as revisiting resonant words, characters, songs and situations leading up to 1892, joining with his co-writer Peter Reder, local actors and musicians. Sponsored by the Battle of Homestead Foundation, with support from The Waterfront, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the United Steelworkers, and Rivers of Steel Heritage Area. Tickets available at battleofhomestead.org. ($20 – $40)

Sunday, July 9, 2:00 pm: The 2017 Bernard Kleiman Memorial Lecture: “The Labor Movement in Mexico and US-Mexico Relations” with Napoleón Gómez Urrutia. The Historic Pump House, 880 East Waterfront Drive, Munhall. Free.

Sunday, July 9, 4:00 pm: Ceremonial River Blessing and Water Healing Ritual at the Historic Pump House, 880 East Waterfront Drive, Munhall.

Thursday, July 13, 7:00 pm: “USW Making History” ― A dramatic presentation celebrating the 75th anniversary of the United Steelworkers. Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center, 455 W. 8th Ave, West Homestead. Free.

The Battle of Homestead of 1892 left seven strikers and three Pinkertons dead after a gun battle centered around the Pump House at the Homestead Works. Henry Clay Frick, at the time in the employ of Andrew Carnegie, had locked out the most skilled steelworkers. This led the entire 4,000-strong workforce of the Homestead Steel Works to walk out on strike. In order to break the union and bring in scabs, Frick had already hired the infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency. The bloodshed ensued when barges carrying hundreds of Pinkertons traveled up the Mon River to Homestead.
The Battle of Homestead Foundation is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle of Homestead with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has also been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to the the 1877 Railroad Strike, the 1909 McKees Rocks Pressed Steel Car Strike, Mother Jones, Francis Perkins, and many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.
For more information: battleofhomestead@gmail.com, 412-478-5907, battleofhomestead.org.
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THE BATTLE OF HOMESTEAD FOUNDATION presents:

A special Meet & Greet with acclaimed actor Mark Rylance – plus –

An Evening with Mark Rylance & Friends On Stage

Events honoring the 125th Anniversary of the Homestead Strike of 1892

FRIDAY, JUNE 30 7:00 PM. MEET. GREET. COMMEMORATE. WITH ACTOR-ACTIVIST-PLAYWRIGHT MARK RYLANCE.

THURSDAY, JULY 6 7:30 PM. MARK RYLANCE & FRIENDS: SHAKESPEARE & THE BATTLE OF HOMESTEAD.

PITTSBURGH, PA (MAY 17, 2017): Two events inspired by the the historic 1892 Battle of Homestead bring world acclaimed actor, activist, theater director, producer and playwright Mark Rylance back to Pittsburgh to share his passion for this pivotal incident in American history.

An exclusive Meet and Greet with Mark Rylance will be held on Friday, June 30 at the Bost Building.

Mark Rylance & Friends: Shakespeare & The Battle Of Homestead will be presented on Thursday, July 6 at The Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead.

The programs acknowledge the 125th Anniversary of the Battle of Homestead, when thousands of locked-out steel workers and townspeople clashed with Pinkerton guards hired by Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie. Rylance calls it “a story worthy of Shakespeare”.

“I came to Pittsburgh in 2003 looking for a new play worthy of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater,” says Rylance, “I discovered a story worthy of this globe (planet Earth) we hope to continue living on. It has obsessed me ever since.” Rylance and co-writer Peter Reder are working on a multi-part play about this battle.

The Meet. Greet. Commemorate event with Rylance as guest of honor, features light fare, drinks, and music led by local musician Jason Kendall at the historic Bost Building (the 1892 workers’ union headquarters), 623 East Avenue, Munhall, PA 15120. Rylance will meet guests, who can also tour the steelmaking exhibits and artifacts at the Bost. Silent Auction and ticket revenues go to the non-profit Battle of Homestead Foundation, to continue to preserve and share this dramatic history with future generations and bring interested visitors to this area.

TICKETS: $150. To purchase, go to: battleofhomestead.org

An Evening with Mark Rylance and Friends: Shakespeare & The Battle of Homestead will be held at the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead, 510 East Avenue, Munhall, PA 15120. Rylance will perform some of his favorite speeches from Shakespeare. He will also join with his co-writer Peter Reder, local actors and musicians, to remember and revisit resonant words, characters, songs and situations from the years leading up to 1892. Ticket proceeds go to The Battle of Homestead Foundation.

TICKETS: $25 – $50. To purchase, go to: ticketfly.com or librarymusichall.com.

These events are part of a yearlong series of lectures, films, plays, education initiatives and musical offerings to honor the Homestead clash and related history. Visit battleofhomestead.org for details. They are funded in part by The Waterfront, The Rivers of Steel Heritage Area, The United Steelworkers, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Mark Rylance was artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London from 1995-2005. He first came to Pittsburgh in 1990, playing Hamlet for the Public Theater and returned again in 2003 to perform Twelfth Night. He has acted on Broadway and become more widely known for his roles in films such as Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and The BFG. He is currently working on Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, scheduled for release July 21. His television work includes the BBC miniseries Wolf Hall that aired on PBS in America. He has written two original plays and was recently created a Knight Bachelor in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to the theater. He is a committed activist for a number of environmental and human rights causes.

For more information on Rylance, the history of the Battle of Homestead and its significance, or for more details about these two special events, please contact: Lynne Squilla –  battleofhomestead@earthlink.net

 


For Immediate Release: May 19, 2017
Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com

Steelworkers’ Stories Will Be Highlighted in June Events at the Historic Pump House in Homestead

Pittsburgh, PA ― Steelworkers’ stories of life and work in and out of the mills will be the focus of two events being presented by the Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF) next month at the Historic Pump House in Homestead. A film screening, and a discussion featuring recollections by former and current steelworkers, will examine challenges facing workers in the local steel industry in the 20th and 21st centuries.

“We want to show how the struggles that steelworkers have faced going back to the turn of the century, with the Battle of Homestead strike, through the organizing of the union that became the United Steelworkers in the 1930s, is very much linked to some of the challenges workers face today,” BHF President John Haer said.

“As our events will show, even in ‘good times’ for the industry, not all workers have been treated the same, and some workers ― notably African-Americans and women ― have often had to struggle more than others.”

On Thursday, June 8, BHF will screen the award-winning film “Struggles in Steel: A Story of African-American Steelworkers” by Ray Henderson and Tony Buba. The film examines the industrial racism and other hardships faced by workers in mill towns along the Monongahela River, such as Braddock. A discussion with Buba will follow the screening. (June 8, 7:00 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210.)

On Saturday, June 24, steelworkers from “back in the day” and current steelworkers will tell their stories of life in the mill and changes in the industry. The panel, “Steelworkers Then and Now,” will be introduced by historian Joel Woller, who will discuss the importance of collective memory, emphasizing that steelworkers in the 1930s rallied around stories of the Homestead Strike of 1892 when forming the United Steelworkers union. (June 24, 1:30 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210.)

The events will be sponsored by the Battle of Homestead Foundation, with support from The Waterfront, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Rivers of Steel Heritage Area.

The Battle of Homestead Foundation is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle of Homestead with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has also been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to the the 1877 Railroad Strike, the 1909 McKees Rocks Pressed Steel Car Strike, Mother Jones, Francis Perkins, and many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.

For more information: battleofhomestead@gmail.com, 412-478-5907, battleofhomestead.org.

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For Immediate Release: April 27, 2017

Events in May Will Examine Pittsburgh, the World, in 1892 The Year of the “Battle of Homestead”

Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com
Pittsburgh, PA ― Two events in May, presented by the Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF), will examine the situation in Pittsburgh, and the wider world, in 1892 ― the year that the “Battle of Homestead” labor conflict took place.
“The year 1892 was hugely important not only for Pittsburgh, but for the wider world,” BHF President John Haer said. “There was a great deal of uncertainty at the time, and there were major struggles in the realms of politics, technology, industry, the environment ― and certainly, labor ― to determine the future course of events.”

On Thursday, May 11, the presentation “1892 ~ The Situation of America” will offer a perspective on people ― including J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, George Westinghouse, Nikolai Tesla, and Thomas Edison ― and formative events regarding U.S. politics, industries, immigration, and growing environmental concerns, that had an impact on America during that turbulent year. (May 11, 7:00 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210.)

On Sunday, May 21, BHF will offer a presentation on “Willa Cather in Pittsburgh.” Cather, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1923, lived in Pittsburgh for six years (1898–1904) and worked as a teacher of English and Latin in Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s Northside), and as a journalist and editor. Cather returned often to Pittsburgh to write and visit her dear friend Isabel McClung, whose father was the judge at the trial of Alexander Berkman (who attempted to assassinate Henry Frick). She was also a friend of journalist and poet Arthur Burgoyne who reported extensively on the 1892 Homestead Strike. Her Pittsburgh stories, edited by BHF member, the late Peter Oresick, were published by CMU press last fall. (May 21, 3:00 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210.)
“Cather’s connections to Pittsburgh, and how Pittsburgh influenced her life and her writings, are not widely known,” Haer said. “We hope to illuminate the ways in which our city’s history is intertwined with this literary giant.”

This year, the 125th anniversary of the “Battle of Homestead,” considered to be one of the most important labor struggles in US history, BHF is presenting a series of theatrical events, film screenings, discussions, and other activities to commemorate the Battle and to educate the community about its enduring importance.

The Battle of Homestead of 1892 left seven strikers and three Pinkertons dead after a gun battle centered around the Pump House at the Homestead Works. Henry Clay Frick, at the time in the employ of Andrew Carnegie, had locked out the most skilled steelworkers. This led the entire 4,000-strong workforce of the Homestead Steel Works to walk out on strike. In order to break the union and bring in scabs, Frick had already hired the infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency. The bloodshed ensued when barges carrying hundreds of Pinkertons traveled up the Mon River to Homestead.

The Battle of Homestead Foundation is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle of Homestead with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has also been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to the the 1877 Railroad Strike, the 1909 McKees Rocks Pressed Steel Car Strike, Mother Jones, Francis Perkins, and many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.

For more information: battleofhomestead@gmail.com, 412-478-5907, battleofhomestead.org.
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For Immediate Release: March 20, 2017

The 125th Anniversary of the “Battle of Homestead” to Be Commemorated this Year with Event Series

Plays, Film Screenings, Remembrance Service, and More Will Showcase Historic Importance of 1892 Strike

Contact: John Haer, (412) 478-5907, johnhaer1@gmail.com

Pittsburgh, PA ― The Battle of Homestead Foundation (BHF) will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the “Battle of Homestead” strike ― considered by many historians to be one of the most important labor struggles in US history ― with a series of performances, film screenings, and discussions from April through October. The program series is themed “Yesterday and Tomorrow: the Legacy of the 1892 Homestead Strike.” Highlights will include an original production by local playwright and director Mark Clayton Southers, and a remembrance service on the day of the anniversary at the graves of strikers.

“Learning about the events in Homestead 1892 leads to intriguing comparisons and contrasts to political and economic dynamics today,” BHF President John Haer said. “It deserves reflection and remembrance, especially during a significant anniversary year, such as this one.”

The event series will kick off on April 6 with a discussion focused on family history, Homestead’s Jewish community, and the interdependence of the town’s merchants and millworkers when BHF member Tammy Hepps will present the story of her grandfather and his role in the Jewish community of Homestead in the aftermath of the Homestead Strike. (April 6, 7:00 pm at the Bost Building, 623 E. 8th Ave., Homestead, PA 15210.)

On April 22, BHF will examine the Battle’s legacy for the region with a film screening, “The Union Comes to Aliquippa,” on improvements won by organizing steelworkers during the mid-1930s Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) union drives. The film tells the dramatic story of the struggle at J & L Steel that led to the famous Supreme Court decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Wagner Act. The win at Aliquippa extended the union beyond US Steel, which surrendered in secret negotiations between CIO President John L. Lewis and then US Steel chairman and CEO Myron Taylor. But the Memorial Day massacre of 1937, just weeks after, kept the union inside “Little Steel” without a contract until 1941. A panel discussion will follow. (April 22, 1:30 pm at the Historic Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Dr., Munhall, PA 15210.)

The Battle of Homestead of 1892 left seven strikers and three Pinkertons dead after a gun battle centered around the Pump House at the Homestead Works. Henry Clay Frick, at the time in the employ of Andrew Carnegie, had locked out the most skilled steelworkers. This led the entire 4,000-strong workforce of the Homestead Steel Works to walk out on strike. In order to break the union and bring in scabs, Frick had already hired the infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency. The bloodshed ensued when barges carrying hundreds of Pinkertons traveled up the Mon River to Homestead.

The Battle of Homestead Foundation is committed to preserving the history of the Battle of Homestead and to educating the public about its legacies. BHF has successfully preserved the Historic Pump House building, which has become a venue for educational and community events, and led efforts to commemorate the Battle of Homestead with plaques describing the event and honoring the dead. BHF has also been involved in establishing historic markers at sites related to the the 1877 Railroad Strike, the 1909 McKees Rocks Pressed Steel Car Strike, Mother Jones, Francis Perkins, and many historic events and persons in Western Pennsylvania.