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East Lynne Theater Company
Year Grant Awarded 2012

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State > NJ Zip Code > 08204
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EMMA GOLDMAN: MY LIFE re-creates the tumultuous life of the early twentieth-century American feminist and workers’ advocate. A target of J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI, Goldman was a world-famous agitator and victim of “red-baiting” in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America.

This one-woman play, commissioned by East Lynne Theater Company (ELTC), debuted in June during the company’s 2010 production season in Cape May, NJ. ELTC backed actor/playwright Lorna Lable’s reaserach, writing and performance. Gayle Stahlhuth, ELTC’s Artistic Director, and Karen Case Cook, who directed Ms. Lable, contributed their expertise to this creative ensemble. Length: 85 minutes.

The audience meets Goldman (1869-1940) on December 20, 1919 at Ellis Island as she awaits deportation to Russia, the country from which she had emigrated as a teenager. As Goldman, Lable reminisces and enacts scenes from her life as an impoverished Jewish seamstress; a union organizer and fiery public speaker; and an anarchist, accused of plotting with Alexander Berkman, her lover, to kill the union-busting industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The Panic of 1893 set off the worst economic depression the U.S. had experienced up to that time; Goldman spoke to huge crowds of frustrated, unemployed workers, telling them to demonstrate “before the palaces of the rich.” For her unrelenting activism and pursuit of justice for workers and women, Goldman was deported under the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1918.

Since its run in Cape May, EMMA has performed at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in NYC, the Mahwah Public Library in NJ, and Metropolitan Playhouse in NYC with funding help from The Puffin Foundation, Ohio State University, and libraries and clubs in Manhattan.

One reviewer of EMMA exclaimed that this production, like other ELTC productions, provides “wonderful insights into characters that have made significant historical contributions to the American landscape.”