A full-length one-act based in the Lower East Side themed around prosperity. These plays chronicle the history of a now-abandoned sewing factory, and a family struggling to determine the best way to honor the legacy of the holocaust survivors who literally built an enterprise from scratch.
Jake, Marilyn and Steve have arranged to meet Betsy (Jake and Betsy’s daughter) at her grandfather’s abandoned factory to break the news: after collecting dust for decades, the defunct MYRA corporation will finally be sold to a developer and turned into condominiums. Betsy is devastated by this surprise, and struggles for a way to save it. What decision will be the most honorable way to keep her grandparents’ legacy alive?
Betsy, influenced by the new “hipster culture” in Brooklyn, pleads with her mother to let her refurbish the old factory into a thrift shop, and revive her grandparents’ memory by reimagining it. Jake insists that Betsy refuses to think practically, and it is eventually revealed that Marilyn was never taught to sew because of her own mother’s secrets, locked away from surviving the death camps of Auschwitz. Betsy then reveals that she dropped out of college when struggling with her grandmother’s death. The family realizes that these secrets may threaten to tear their own legacy apart, if they aren’t brought to light. In the meantime, the factory papers still must be signed or destroyed. What is the most honorable decision for their future as a family and as a community?
The play begins and ends with the actual recordings of Irving Stochel, Betsy’s grandfather, as an (optional) Prologue and Eulogy to the play, which are pantomimed scenes from Betsy’s perspective. In the prologue, Betsy discovers her grandfather’s tape cassette tucked away in a coat he made, where she learns all about his factory. In the eulogy, Betsy plays Irving’s tapes once more, as she struggles to make a final decision, with the fate of the factory in one hand, and a handful of her grandfather’s fabrics in the other. View on New Play Exchange.
Hear sample recordings:
- The stories IRVING tells of “beautiful girls…”
2. “Once upon a time, before the second World War…”
3. “I was born in 1921…”
4. “Once upon a time, before the second World War…” (Yes, Irving is able to recount the same exactly story verbatim.)
5. “Go away. We wish you lots of successful…come back another time.” (His song to Winter.”
Read a transcribed excerpt of #5.
See excerpts of first reading at LIU Brooklyn Campus, June 2018
IRVING STOCHEL, my Grandfather
(recorded himself into an old cassette tape, sirens faded in the background)
“Once upon a time, before the second world war, I lived in Poland, a city, the small city, they used to call it Komorov, Poland.”
This is how Irving Stochel begins every one of his tapes. On each crackling audiocassette, he recounts an idyllic world of “ very good families, lovely people “ – a world he can never get back, but can recreate verbatim on his tapes to himself, like Beckett’s last tapes.
“This was mine people – good people. “
Every member of my family will tell you how Irving sang “The Yiddishe Mama” over and over again and any possible chance.
Four family members, one factory and an incalculable legacy. Factory Treasure is a collective confrontation of how we view our past and what we choose to do with it.
See my third TEDx Talk, which inspired the story.