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Moe FonerMoe Foner
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Bread and Roses, when we perform for working people, it's very easy. It could be a cinch -- you know, we're well known. We come in, we can do anything and get away with it. People will like it. However, we are imbued here because of what Bread and Roses is and what it means for the future. We work as hard on a Bread and Roses performance, that we even work harder, to make sure that it's the very best.”

He's not saying that the workers deserve the very best. He's saying that for an artist who thinks the way we think, Bread and Roses is a very rare opportunity. He said, “Look I've been doing these things with 1199 for a quarter of a century. Bread and Roses represents a higher level of everything that we've done. When I saw it coming, we were grateful for the opportunity to be in on it, to make it work. Because it's very important to make it work because you have to make it work for an audience that's not an easy -- you can get away with anything with the audience, but you ought to do the very best. You also have a responsibility because Bread and Roses is a pathfinder, a trail blazer. You have to prove to those people in Washington that we can do as good as they can. That we don't have to be ashamed of what we're doing. We can be proud. They can then sing its praises.”

And they did! They had to justify. Because I remember telling you the story about how they were, that famous meeting where we didn't know we were going to get any money and they were poking fun at me. “What is Joe Papp going to do? Is he going to do his tap dance?” Now that was the attitude of a lot of people there. But we proved very clearly that we could play in the big leagues with them. That's, I think, what we did.


I'm going to ask one last thing on this topic and then we can move on.

I think everything you're saying is true, but I still see the problem of a kind of generational and political disjuncture which is reflected in other ways too. You know, that -- and I think it's less true of the dramatic presentations, which undoubtedly were very much directed at the members. But in terms of the art and the book and things like that, they seem to be much more a product of a kind of educated, politicized workers culture -- which is what we come from -- and therefore accessible more to the staff people and people like that. It reminds me of when we were making the slide show, and Ralph said “We should have the theme from Rocky as the music to the slide show.” You know, and I said, “Okay sure, fine.” You know, it was never going to be the theme for the slide show.


But he was reacting the way workers react.

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