Pray for the Dead-a Musical Tale

$15,782 of $25k goal

Raised by 153 people in 17 months



Support theater for the 90% by funding:

Pray for the Dead-A Musical Tale of Morgues, Moguls and Mutiny
                  By Gene Bruskin

                  Music by Gene Bruskin and Tom Smerling

Who is Gene Bruskin?

I grew up in a dysfunctional working class Jewish family in Philadelphia after WWII listening to ever-present recordings of Broadway musicals.  After getting out of college in the turbulent 60s I collaborated on a couple original plays about community issues in Boston in the 70s, one about desegregation bussing, and spent a summer apprenticing with the SF Mime Troupe.  But when I took a job as a Boston school bus driver in 1977, it led to a union drive, strikes, arrests and the beginning of my 37 year career as a union organizer.  My creative work took a back seat.   I retired in 2012 and took another stab at some creative writing. What resulted to my delight, was a two-act dark musical comedy for and about workers: Pray for the Dead.

     “This play can best be described as Norma Rae     meets Sweeney Todd meets Bertolt Brecht,”  
       (A friend of Pray for the Dead.)

Theater for the 90%

Pray for the Dead is written for and about workers and working  class communities at a time when much of mainstream theater is seen as unaffordable, irrelevant or inaccessible to large numbers of bus drivers, janitors, steelworkers and other wage earners.  But US history is filled with inspiring examples of theater of, for and/or by workers, much of which died out after WWII.    Pray for the Dead is a small attempt to remedy this situation. With humor, music, drama and a message of hope Pray speaks to the international crisis of growing inequality that results from corporate and political corruption.

An Allegory of heroes emerging from the morgue

The story is a provocative musical allegory of an unlikely worker uprising narrated by a mysterious and nameless cleaning woman known only as the Old Lady.  It evolves from despairing morgue workers and is set in an unknown country amidst a severe recession. Their employer, the Dug and Philup Graves Funeral Home ("Your Death is Our Life") is threatening to close. Union shop steward Harmon struggles to convince Graves to keep the business open while morgue worker Benita leads an underground effort to do away with corrupt members of the nearby parliament in hopes of generating big funerals for the failing business.  As politicians flee and the One Percent’s secret society ‘The Vault’ seeks to intervene, things get out of hand.

The workers defy all odds, mysterious forces intervene and the true identity of the Old Lady is revealed.

Raising the urgent questions of our time, with a song.

With all the immediacy and intimacy of live theater, Pray for the Dead asks questions that are central to public debate today regarding low wages, disempowerment of workers and an oppressive political system by and for the 1%.  Pray is created for working class audiences at union meetings or in communities. The play literally sets the stage for a thoughtful discussion about social and economic injustice and the role of unions and other forms of workers’ self-organizing in challenging the status quo and making life better for the 99%.

Getting the play to the people

Pray for the Dead has received substantial assistance in getting the play ready for production from First Draft , a DC Area theater organization that supports new plays and playwrights and seeks new audiences.  Skilled musicians, with valuable support from Glenn Pearson, pitched in to strengthen the music. 

How your contributions will be used

We will need $25,000 in seed money to:

Pay an artistic director a producer and a musical director, the cast and a company manager (stage manager)
Begin producing costumes/masks and props
Identify venues
Producing outreach materials to publicize and promote the play

Thank you for your support and solidarity

Let’s make Pray for the Dead come alive!



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Update 10
Posted by Gene Bruskin
3 months ago
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Greetings Friends and Comrades:
As the year closes I wanted to update you on the considerable progress of Pray for the Dead. Sadly recent events have made the extreme class divide even more dramatic than Pray could imagine. But Pray provides a contradiction to the hopelessness. It shows the most unlikely morgue workers spurring a national revolt with humor and song against The Vault/Vaultures (elite).

PERFORMANCE AT CORNELL
Since the summer students put on a revised version of Pray at Cornell University in Ithaca in connection to the Cornell Institute for Labor Relations. The student performers and audience loved it.
THE RADIO SHOW
The Pray radio show continues to air in a variety of cities, including this month in Philadelphia and Vancouver Canada on December 21st and Kansas City on December 29th at 6pm central time (listen live or download after at:
www.heartlandlaborforum.org www.kkfi.org
TO LISTEN TO THE RADIO SHOW GO TO:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78uULIWvQ2g&feature=youtu.be
TO PROMOTE THE RADIO SHOW TO A PUBLIC RADIO STATION
Contact me at genebruskin@gmail.com and connect me to someone you know who has a radio show or connect who might be interested
Lastly, I have applied to the National Association of Musical Theaters festival in NYC. If accepted (quite a long shot) they put on the play in NYC for the theater world in the Fall.
So-Pray for the Dead keeps on moving and is more relevant than ever. We are looking for local theater groups who want to put it on or unions who want to promote it.
Much Love and Solidarity in 2017. Thanks for all your support. Stay close to your friends and family, have a good holiday season and, as Jesse Jackson still says, Keep Hope Alive
Gene Bruskin
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Update 9
Posted by Gene Bruskin
5 months ago
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Hello Friends and Comrades
Pray for the Dead did our final show of the summer season on September 27 as a benefit for the Plymouth Congregational Church of the Reverend Graylan Hagler, who generously lent us church space for our many rehearsals.
On September 21st we did a rousing show for the Delegates from 1199/SEIU Baltimore to a full house. It was an enthusiastic and engaged crowd who virtually turned the event into church, “amening” every time the boss got wacked. It was every bit in the long tradition of 1199s Bread and Roses cultural program.
We have a radio show, a CD a video of a full performance, soundtracks, photos, complete scripts and scores etc.-a pretty full documentation of the summer’s work.
With the generous contributions for you and others, including the unions, we were able to cover much of our expenses. So we now move on to the challenge of figuring out how to fund and stage a full production of the play.
We have several irons in the fire, including a production by the Labor Studies and theater students of Cornell in Ithaca in conjunction with a November 17th Labor Roundtable. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
All I can say is I love you all and your faith and me and this project are worth many millions of dollars to me. Stay in touch with and share our our facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/PrayfortheDeadMusical) and have a great Fall.
Much Love and Solidarity
Gene


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Update 8
Posted by Gene Bruskin
7 months ago
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Pray for the Dead Becomes a Live Radio Drama:

It’s been an exciting summer. In the long tradition of US Radio dramas so popular in the pre-TV era, Pray for the Dead was aired as a live show with a discussion that followed on August 19th on WPFW in DC and KPFA in San Francisco. The show was ARISE, a weekly hour hosted by political commentator and author Bill Fletcher. To listen to the show follow the directions below. (note-there are some interruptions for WPFW announcements. This link will be alive for about 2 weeks)
FYI, here is the link for the radio show that featured a mini version of Pray for the Dead yesterday:

http://wpfwfm.org/radio/programming/archived-shows
Look for the show called "Arise" and click on August 19th

Also: we have a public showing this Tuesday at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville, MD. Some seats are still available but rsvps are recommended if you want to pass the word. RSVP at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pray-for-the-dead-a-musical-tale-of-morgues-moguls-mutiny-registration-26562130046

I want to thank all of you for your support and solidarity and encouragement. Please keep passing the word about this project-we have several more performances planned, a CD of the music has been produced and we need to meet the $25,000 goal we set to come close to breaking even and getting ready for Stage II.
Love and Solidarity,
Gene
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Update 7
Posted by Gene Bruskin
8 months ago
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Pray for the Dead is on a Roll

July has been an exciting month for Pray for the Dead. We had two hit performances this month, one at the national convention of the Master Mates and Pilots Union (IOMM&P) at the Maritime training facility near Baltimore and one at the Machinists (IAM) Winpsinger Training Center in Southern Maryland.

Union mebers stuck around after both performances for discussions about the performance and the issues it raised. One worker talked about becoming emotional at several points that reflected his own situation. Another said it was the best thing since Clifford O’Detts Waiting for Lefty. They cheered when workers took over their workplaces and clapped and sang at what is becoming the hit song in the show, SteelMore Blues.

It is becoming clearer than ever that Pray for the Dead has great potential to move and engage audiences.
HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.
• Contribute what you can and pass the word to your friends.
• Go to our Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/PrayfortheDeadMusical) and like it, maybe post a comment, and share it with your friends.

The extremes of wealth and power playing out in the media are central to the story of the play. Although unions are kicking in to help defray expenses the costs are mounting. In addition to paying our wonderful team we have had other expenses such as providiing the sound systems in some occasions. We want to get a professional video done in August but that requires hiring a two camera crew.
We are making plans for how to keep Pray for the Dead alive after our summer performances.

WHAT IS NEXT?
• Two performances in August including one on August 23rd at BusBoys and Poets in Hyattsville, MD—rsvp at: ( https://www.facebook.com/PrayfortheDeadMusical)
• A radio show production on Friday 9AM (EDT) August 19th on Bill Fletcher’s Arise program on WPFW (DC) and KPFA in SF.
• A CD is coming
• Anything could happen
It is because of the generosity of friends we got to this point. Wishing you all a great summer.
Love and Solidarity
Gene

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$15,782 of $25k goal

Raised by 153 people in 17 months
Created October 17, 2015
Gene Bruskin  
SF
$250
Steve Fahrer
2 months ago
JA
$100
Judith Ancel
2 months ago
$25
Anonymous
3 months ago
1
1
BB
$50
Bev Bierman
5 months ago
$25
Gene Bruskin
6 months ago
MM
$50
Mike Miller
7 months ago
CP
$50
Carol Philips
7 months ago

Go, Gene, a hero to us all. Broadway show music and solidarity 4 ever.

LG
$100
Lisa Gallatin
7 months ago
LP
$50
Lenny Potash
8 months ago
FS
$50
Francine Sheppard
8 months ago
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