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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

'Mill Girls' Stages Story Of Industrialization, Workers' Rights In New England Textile Mills

The cast of "Mill Girls" at the Champlain Mill in Winooski. There will be free performances of the show at Saint Michael's College in November.
Jerry Swope
/
Saint Michael's College
The cast of "Mill Girls" at the Champlain Mill in Winooski. There will be free performances of the show at Saint Michael's College in November.

A new play premiering at Saint Michael's College tells the story of the women who worked the textile mills in Winooski and across New England in the mid-1800s. But it's also a story about America's shift from small towns to big cities, how women were treated and compensated in the country's earliest factories, the fight for workers' rights and the mills' connections to slavery before the Civil War.

Mill Girls is in rehearsals now, with free performances in early November at the school's McCarthy Arts Center Theater.

Saint Michael's theater professor Peter Harrigan is the show's co-writer, director and costume designer. Harrigan joins Vermont Edition to discuss the process of developing the play and weaving the threads of New England history into its characters, stories and music.

Also joining the conversation is Mill Girls co-writer and music composer and arranger Tom Cleary, as well as Susan Ouellette, a professor of American studies and history at Saint Michael's College.

Disclosure: Saint Michael's College is an underwriter of VPR.

Broadcast live on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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