The Lab is housed in the assembly hall of San Francisco's Labor Temple, opened on February 27, 1915. For thirty years and the price of union dues, thousands came here to receive medical care, daycare, food, leisure time, and a place to fight for better working conditions. In 1934 it hosted the vote for the General Strike, which set off a wave of actions that led to the forty hour work week and standard minimum wage.
So, The Lab sits on the place where thousands decided they needed a new system of values. In the era where the tech worker wants to be an artist and the artist wants to be an entrepreneur, it would be nice to evaluate how we got here. And where we'd like to go.
The German playwright Bertholt Brecht believed that great theater could question the extent to which we could empathize with one another, and thus submerge ourselves into a common narrative. His learning plays were exercises in enabling the same kind of action carried out in the Temple’s assembly hall in 1934. Through his work, we ask: Can art can help us form knowledge? Can we separate from our self-consciousness long enough to think collectively?
So, in the style of Bertholt Brecht's Lehrstücke (learning plays), The Lab invites workers throughout the Bay Area to come together and take stock, albeit with some tongue in cheek humor.
Following The Lab/or Play, tenants of the Labor Temple (now called the Redstone Building) will present a slideshow on thehistory of the building, labor songs from the Labor Heritage Chorus, a puppet show by Bob and Jill Owen, building tours, and a special birthday cake to celebrate the building’s 100th anniversary.