On Stage

Ginger's Ballad

Workers of the world, unite!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It’s been nearly a century since Albert “Ginger” Goodwin was shot and killed in the Cumberland bush on Canada’s Vancouver Island, but thanks to people such as playwright Elaine Avila, the legacy of the workers’ rights activist won’t soon be forgotten.

The Ballad of Ginger Goodwin, the play Avila penned after visiting Vancouver Island and realizing Goodwin’s story had been quelled in the decades since his death, tells the story of the titular character who, through a strike at a Canadian zinc smelter, helped to bring the World War I British war machine to a grinding halt.

“When I was in Cumberland, I noticed that Goodwin’s story was being suppressed,” Avila says. “For example, the government took down street signs honoring him in 2001. And even though people come from as far away as Chile to lay wreaths on his grave, most Canadians have no idea who he is!

“Goodwin’s assassination led to Vancouver’s first general strike, to Canada’s first general strike. It seems like pretty important history, right? But after he was assassinated, the Vancouver Sun newspaper wrote, ‘Let his friends remember him if they may, but let no honest man mention his name henceforth.’ In the 99 years since his death, people have been fighting to keep his story out of the public eye.”

When The Ballad of Ginger Goodwin opens Thurs., Feb. 4 at Western Washington University’s DUG Theatre, it’ll be crystal clear Goodwin will no longer be simply a footnote in history. The migrant coal worker from England who took a stand against deplorable working conditions and promoted the proliferation of trade unions will once again be a living, breathing human intent on telling his story.

Along the way, Goodwin and a host of other characters—among them an idealistic industrialist, a pro-war matron, an Italian laundress, a chorus girl, an Italian soldier, coal miners, smelter workers, a military doctor, a mediator, a union organizer and immigrants with dreams—will turn his tale about the battle for workers’ rights into prime-time viewing.

“The students—actors, designers and stage managers—are doing amazing, committed work,” Avila says of her collaboration with guest director Kathleen Weiss. “I hope audiences enjoy this as much as I do.”

Also worth noting, Avila says, is a “beautiful and rousing” original ballad by musician and activist Earle Peach she commissioned from her writer’s fee. Additionally, labor music scholar Gary Cristall provided invaluable advice when it came to the play’s soundtrack, helping her find the music her characters would’ve sung, such as Yorkshire ballads and songs written by Italian immigrants.

Ultimately, Avila is hoping that reliving Goodwin’s actions and the events leading up to his death will help people come to the same conclusion she did after finding out more about his life—namely, that his is a story that should never be forgotten.

“Why is it that we aren’t supposed to know certain histories?” she asks. “They must be threatening in some way. Or they might be seen as very, very empowering.

“My play is about the battle for workers’ rights—the eight-hour day, worker’s compensation. Many lost their lives in this fight. It’s a vital part of our history in Canada and the United States. Our current generation has our own battles and struggles ahead of us, and we can draw inspiration and knowledge from Ginger Goodwin’s story. He had a rare courage, hope and strength although I believe, inside, he may have been as scared as any of us.”

ICU Roof #2
More On Stage...
Alps Alert
Getting in on the act

Last week, my officemate and I spent a few minutes of our deadline countdown belting out verses from “My Favorite Things.”

It may not have been the appropriate time or place to croon about “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” or “bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,” but…

more »
Coming Home
Out and about with Betty Desire

If you’ve ever visited Rumors Cabaret on a Sunday night, chances are you’re familiar with Betty Desire’s cheeky karaoke performances, raunchy humor and live storytelling. But the real story of Betty Desire is one of tireless advocacy for equality and community.

Betty—a character…

more »
A Doll's House
Two takes on Ibsen

Nora Helmer’s husband is a clueless jerk who treats his wife like brainless chattel, but that didn’t stop audiences who first watched Danish playwright Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House from being aghast when her character chose to leave her spouse—and her children—behind at the end of the…

more »
Events
Today
Home for the Holidays

5:00pm|Ferndale Events Center

The 39 Steps

7:00pm|Sehome High School Little Theatre

Little Women

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Peter and the Star Catcher

7:00pm|Squalicum High School

Romeo, You Idiot!

7:30pm|Heiner Theater

Fools

7:30pm|Mount Baker High School

Craft Bazaar

9:00am|American Legion Post #43

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Meridian Street

Hot Cider & Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

Used Book Sale

10:00am|Everson Library

Red Barn Handpicked Holiday Market

12:00pm|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

3:00pm|Lynden Library, Ferndale Library

It's Where the Sidewalk Ends

6:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

New Music, New Dance

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

The Big Short One-Act Festival

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Bellingham Repertory Dance's Emerge

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Backyard Brawl

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Pancake Feed

8:00am|VFW Post 1585

Holiday Bazaar

9:00am|Hillcrest Chapel

Christmas in the Woods

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Acme Elementary School

Turkey Trot

9:00am|Squalicum Creek Park

Climate Reality

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

South Fork Winterfest

10:00am|Van Zandt Community Hall

Fall Gardening

10:00am|Lynden Library

Cheese Fest

10:00am|Everybody's Store

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Holiday Farmers Market

10:00am|Port of Anacortes Transit Shed Event Center

Lynden Book Club

10:30am|Everson Library

Salmon Sighting

12:00pm|Haynie Creek

Conquering Writer's Block

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Fishboy Holiday Show

2:00pm|FishBoy Gallery

NaNoWriMo and Indie Publishing

3:00pm|Everson Library

Skagit Wine & Beer Festival

3:00pm|Eaglemont

Homeless Summit and Cold Weather Giveaway

3:00pm|Maritime Heritage Park

i.e. artists talk

3:30pm|i.e. gallery

Small Works Opening

4:00pm|Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park

Smith & Vallee Artist Talk

4:00pm| Smith & Vallee Gallery

WA 129 Poetry Reading

6:00pm|Maple Hall

Giving from the Heart

7:00pm|Depot Art Center

A Light in the Darkness

7:00pm|Church of the Assumption

Welcome Home Celebration

7:00pm|Village Books

Ruach Consort

7:00pm|St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Eagles Hall

Michael Kaeshammer

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Legends of the Blues V

7:30pm|Byrnes Performing Arts Center

Trove
Tomorrow
Peter and the Star Catcher

7:00pm|Squalicum High School

Fools

7:30pm|Mount Baker High School

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Meridian Street

Bellingham Repertory Dance's Emerge

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Cheese Fest

10:00am|Everybody's Store

Holiday Farmers Market

10:00am|Port of Anacortes Transit Shed Event Center

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Getting in on the act

1:00pm

Sound of Music Singalong

1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

A Musical Thanksgiving

2:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Harmony from Discord with Whatcom Symphony Orchestra

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

The 25th Hour

4:00pm|Village Books

Southside Community Meal

5:00pm|Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Way North Comedy Showcase

7:00pm|Farmstrong Brewing Co.

Rutie Dornfeld, John Miller

7:00pm|YWCA Ballroom

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Monday
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Meridian Street

Wander + Camber Beer Dinner

6:30pm|Camber Cafe

Rocks & Gems

7:00pm|Bloedel Donovan Community Building

Guffawingham

9:30pm|Green Frog

see our complete calendar »

Trove Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Kaeshammer