February 20, 2011

The Oakland 46ers

Welcome to the homepage for information about performance projects by The Oakland 46ers, a ragtag collective of artists and activists who occasionally take to the streets wearing costumes in order to educate our communities about the history-- and future-- of social and environmental justice in California.

Have an idea for a project? We can work with you or your organization to develop ideas for participatory, performance-based actions. We prefer to work with effected community members, rather than just talk about them. Contact us to discuss ideas and availability.

New! Oakland, 1946! is now archived online! Thanks to a grant from the folks over at Deep Oakland, there is now a terrific archive of the Oakland, 1946! re-enactment and rally on their website. Learn about the project and download the script, budget, press materials and more-- hopefully they can help you get started on your own radical street theater adventures. Go to the archive here. While you're there, poke around their interesting collection of words, sounds, and images relating to East Bay history and art.

Until next time, in solidarity,

The Oakland 46ers

September 23, 2009

Up Next...

Hey everybody,

We're getting the band back together and working on our next show!

It's going to be part of the 10 year anniversary celebration of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE).

Here's a link to the event:
Community, Faith and Labor For a Just Economy

Last show, we took you back in time to Oakland in 1946, and now with this show we'll be leaping forward into the future of the East Bay in the year 2049!!!

Come see our show, hear an amazing speaker (Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins from Green For All), and support an amazing organization in our community!

Also, here is a link to an article about our last show on Art Topic, and below is the text from the front page story that the Oakland Tribune wrote on December 8, 2008. (The Tribune doesn't seem to have permalinks for their stories, and I can't remember the name of the reporter, so please tell us if you know who it is and we'll credit you!)

The Oakland 46ers


Theatre group tells labor struggle story

OAKLAND -- A crew of labor organizers and artists turned Latham Square into a stage Sunday afternoon, armed with a wardrobe of 1940s style clothing, some historical research and a cause of labor solidarity.

The performance, called "Oakland 1946!," told the true story of a retail workers' strike, organized on that exact site, that eventually ballooned into a general labor strike, shutting down the city for two days. The audience of about 100 people was actively brought into the show. Some were given picket signs and drawn into a dance of celebration.

The Boss, a vaudeville villain and oppressor of the poor played by UC Davis theater professor Larry Bogad, drew hearty boos and hisses from the crowd, pulling up a volunteer to kneel on the ground and act as his footrest as he pretended to call city officials and get police to help him break a picket line.

When a father in the audience held up his infant child and the kid blew a loud raspberry at Bogad, he turned, raised an eyebrow, grabbed the cigar from his mouth and said, "Just what I need. A Zapatista baby."

Director and labor organizer Max Bell Alper said the idea was to take the passion of a successful historical strike "and bring it to life on-site.''

"We wanted to make it as engaging as possible so people will remember this, and then connect it to current struggles," he said.

Three current labor struggles took the stage as the historical story came to a close.

Manuel Rivas, an Oakland truck driver speaking to the crowd through a Spanish translator, said he's worked at the Port of Oakland for 22 years, often having to work difficult 12-hour shifts, and that misconceptions about trucker pay have made the cause more difficult.

"We do get large gross pay, but we have very high expenses so the net is very low," he said. "With respect to people who work in McDonald's and fast-food restaurants, we don't even take home as much as them."

Rivas said he gets no benefits, vacation time or sick pay, and the next step he and his colleagues are fighting for is to gain employee status, as they are currently considered independent contractors and are therefore unable to unionize.

Speakers for local hotel laborers and city employees also told of their labor struggles. As the show ended and the cast began mingling with the crowd, many people spoke of President-elect Barack Obama's support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which supporters say would make it easier to form unions, and a general sense of hope Obama's election has given them.

"I can't imagine this event happening six months ago," 19-year- old Oakland resident Gabriel Vieira said. "It would have sounded silly.

"I loved how (the performance) started with this fascinating historical story, and they brought it all the way up to the present. A lot of this stuff is still happening."

The cast and speakers asked the audience to spread the word and attend several upcoming labor events, such as a Dec. 18 march for hotel workers from The Crowne Plaza to the Holiday Inn in Concord and an Emeryville City Council meeting on Dec. 15 where hotel employees hope to settle a back-pay dispute with the Woodfin Suites.

Alper said the cast and crew hope to organize more site-specific performances, but nothing is planned right now. Updates and more information are available at www.oakland1946.blogspot.com.

December 9, 2008

Some photos...

Retail workers strike!

The boss gets scab workers!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Newspapers support the Boss!

Mass meeting in support of striking retail workers and the general strike!

Everyone joins the general strike!

Hotel workers from UNITE-HERE Local 2850 speak about their current struggles!

All photos by Lydia Daniller. You can see more of her amazing work at www.lydiadaniller.com

December 7, 2008


Thanks to everyone who turned out for the performances - the event, the audience, the feeling in that space at that moment, the workers who spoke... everything exceeded our most positive expectations. We counted about 200 people on Friday night and about 100 on a chilly Sunday afternoon. So did the Oakland Tribune: http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_11164601

A post-show update is coming soon, along with photos.

Some ways you can be involved in current struggles:

When you see a group of workers picketing, stop & talk with them about their issues.

Come to the Emeryville City Council meeting (1333 Park Ave.) at 7pm on Monday Dec. 15th to stand in solidarity with Woodfin workers. www.workingeastbay.org


March in solidarity on Dec. 18 from The Crowne Plaza to the Holiday Inn in Concord. www.hotelworkersrising.org


Thank you. Keep fighting.
Oakland 1946

December 4, 2008

Just added: Drink specials for Oakland 46ers!

This just in:

The kind folks over at Cafe Van Kleef have offered all OAKLAND 1946 audience members and participants DOLLAR-OFF DRINKS on Friday night after the show. So after gettin' your strike on in Latham Square, head on up the block and warm up at the coolest, quirkiest spot in town. Their greyhounds are to die for:

Cafe Van Kleef
1621 Telegraph Ave
between 16th and 17th
in Downtown Oakland

[See the post below this one for complete performance time and location details]

November 30, 2008


Hi everyone,

Our two performances are this week! Come picket and dance in the streets with us!

WHAT: OAKLAND 1946! A theatrical reenactment of the 1946 Oakland General Strike
Where it actually happened, in Latham Square in downtown Oakland (where Broadway meets Telegraph at 16th St.)
WHEN: Two performances -- Friday, Dec. 5, at 8pm (during Art Murmur) and Sunday, Dec. 7, at 2pm. Audience participation encouraged. Free to the public.
WHY? Because your voice is part of the history, activism, and art of our times.

What's the 1946 Oakland General Strike? Well, it was a public show of solidarity with striking department-store workers that rapidly evolved into a remarkable experience of community activism. In December of 1946, more than 100,000 Oakland workers in all industries struck for three days to protest poor job conditions, low wages, and anti-worker actions by the city and police. Oakland residents talked and marched with neighbors and strangers, enjoyed free food, danced to jukebox tunes in the streets, and came together as working people to demand respect during a crucial moment in U.S. history. It was also the last general strike in U.S. history to this date.

What's a theatrical reenactment? It is what you make it! We have created a street-theater play about the strike, and we need you there to be a part of it. Come learn about local radical history, march and dance and picket with us, and meet present-day workers who are fighting for a fair shake in Oakland right now.

Spread the word. Ask questions. Start the conversation. Contact:

November 15, 2008

extras, extras, read all about it!

Hello all Oakland '46ers and interested folks! Only two (!) more weeks until the performance, and here's an update on our general strike-related activities:

We had a great first art-making party last week, and picket signs are plentiful for you when you come to the show. In other news: the trolley set is beginning to take shape; the design for posters and flyers is being finalized; outreach and fundraising with local organizations is in full swing; and we're starting to eye 1940s-style clothes when we pass by our local thrift stores and wish for no rain that weekend (although we also wish for lots of rain on other weekends, because there's a drought on). The core performers are practicing on site this week - Monday, 11/24 at 6pm at Latham Square. Stop on by if you want to be an extra. Because...

We still need people to participate as "ensemble" members. This consists mostly of participating in picket lines, assisting the audience in following the action, and doing things like dancing and chanting during the show. Ideally, we would want you at both performances, but realistically ... if you can only make one show, we still welcome your participation.

If this sounds good to you, and you can make it to the dress rehearsals listed below, please do!

If this sounds good to you, and you cannot make it to the dress rehearsals listed below, please just come to the show and chime in anyway!

Either way, drop us a line at oakland1946@gmail.com

And if you are interested in helping out with poster and flyer distribution, let us know!

Heck, drop us a line anyway, and tell us you're on board for our wild experiment in theater, activism, history, and fun....

Monday 12/1 at 6pm in Latham Square
Thursday 12/4 at 6pm in Latham Square

(participants will be called a little earlier than performance times)
Friday, 12/5 at 8 pm , during Oakland Art Murmur, Latham Square
Sunday, 12/7 at 2 pm, Latham Square

See you in the streets!

-Oakland 1946!