By Alexis Rufener
Youngstown State University’s Department of Theater and Dance continues their main stage season with the presentation of “Out of This Furnace” Feb. 26 in Bliss Hall’s Ford Theater.
Adapted from a Thomas Bell’s book of the same name, “Out of This Furnace” is set in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a town east of Pittsburgh. The story follows three separate generations of a Slovak family as they struggle through immigration from Austria-Hungary in the industrial era and attempt to build a life under the monolithic American steel mills and discrimination.
Scott Irelan, chair of the department of theater and dance, is the producer of the main stage University Theater, where he manages everything from the creation of the costumes to the balance of the budget for the sets.
“I think it’s a great piece. The struggles of the family in the play are similar to the struggles of folks who used to work in the steel industry, and still do here in the Mahoning Valley,” Irelan said. “There is an interesting collision of past and present … if it wasn’t something that was relevant to us, we wouldn’t be working on it. It is a piece that we really value and we’re excited to present it the Mahoning Valley community.”
This year, Nancy Andersen Wolfgang, instructor of YSU’s musical theater and the director for “Out of This Furnace,” knew the show was going to be a different beast than previous shows she’s worked on.
Unlike other shows, “Out of this Furnace” features a larger cast than most. In addition, the story also takes place across 30 years in many locations and includes many scene changes — making this play stand out from the rest in terms of difficulty.
Wolfgang said she likes the play for its ability to show the evolution of a culture and an individual family.
“I like how it shows that each generation does better than the one before,” Wolfgang said. “Yes, it is focused from the steel industry, but also the story of this family and it gives the parents of each generation hope that their children will do better than they did — you know we watch that unfold on stage.”
If students and faculty have questions about tickets, they can call the box office at 330-941-3105. Ticket prices are free for students with a valid YSU ID.