FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE &
contact: Dawn Flood firstname.lastname@example.org Please see release for all appropriate public
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE & BROADCAST
Press contact: Dawn Flood
Please see release for all appropriate public information
Dimed Exposes Plight of Low Wage Workers in
Salinas, CA —
According to a study by the United States Department of Labor, approximately 31 million Americans or 11.3% of the population could count themselves as members of the working poor in America in the year 2000. Jump four years later to 2004 and a similar study by the Labor Department found that these numbers had catapulted to 37 million or 12.7% of the population, translating to the addition of 6 million people to this dubious club in just a few years.
Yet, who are these people we call “the working poor”? Certainly they are more than just statistics. They are our mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, friends, and neighbors who tirelessly labor as waitresses, store clerks, house cleaners, and any number of low wage jobs which offer an abundance of opportunities for humiliation and abuse, but very little in the way of standard of living or health benefits.
On July 27th, The Western Stage will put a face to these statistics when it opens Joan Holden’s adaptation of Barbara Ehrenreich’s bestselling book Nickel and Dimed: Or (Not) Getting by in America in the Studio Theater.
In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich made a novel pitch to her editor at Harper’s magazine. Inspired by the heated debate surrounding welfare reform during the Clinton Administration, which suggested just getting any old job would improve people’s lives, Ehrenreich proposed going undercover to work at a series of low wage positions to test this theory. Her editor loved the idea, and so over the next two years Ehrenreich traveled from Florida to Maine working as a waitress, house cleaner, and store clerk at “Mal-Mart”. Her investigation culminated with a critically acclaimed book that challenged many preconceptions about the working poor in America, especially erroneous notions that the jobs these people perform require no real skills or that $7.00 an hour is the minimum wage a person needs to live on.
Ehrenreich, in fact, discovers the opposite is true. After working several of these positions, and meeting many of the women who perform these jobs—for women are more likely to be members of the “working poor” than are men—she discovers these positions do in fact require a strong amount of physical endurance and mental agility to succeed. She also learns first hand the challenges many of these women face, from Carlie, a bitter and overworked maid who only eats bread crumbs for lunch because she can’t afford anything better, to Maddy, a single mother who locks her children in a closet so she can go to work because she can not afford daycare.
The book became an instant bestseller when it was published in 2000; and Joan Holden’s adaptation of received comparable acclaim when it premiered in 2002 at the Intiman Theatre in Seattle. (For more about Joan Holden and the development of Nickel and Dimed, please see the supplemental article.)
Nickel and Dimed is directed by Teresa K. Pond whose theatre credits span both coasts, from New York City to Los Angeles. Recent productions include Lysistrata, Amahl and the Night Visitors, West Side Story, Of Mice and Men, and Perfect Wedding. After completing this project for The Western Stage, she will be traveling back to New York to direct Much Ado About Nothing and Extraordinay, a new musical at Vital Theatre.
Nickel and Dimed plays in the Studio Theater, Hartnell College Performing Arts Center, through August 19th. Performances are Fri and Sat at 8 pm, and Sun at 2 pm. Season tickets are still available, saving patrons upwards of 42% off the single ticket price. To reserve seats or find out about subscription packages, visit The Western Stage online at or call the box office at (831) 375-2111.