Death of a Meatpacker


File this under strange, but true: Postville is coming to the stage.

Colorado playwright Don Fried is adapting the story of Postville and Agriprocessors for the theater, according to a story this week in the Colorado Independent.

Fried was in talks with another bard of Postville, the Iowa journalist Stephen Bloom, for the rights to his 2001 chronicle of brewing tensions between the town’s old-timers and the newcomers in black hats from Brooklyn. Then came the raid on May 12, and if you’ve been paying any attention to this blog at all for the past seven months, you know the rest.

But don’t think that means Fried is crafting a tragedy. The Independent reports:

“What I wanted the play to be about is change,” he said. “Change is inevitable. Change hurts. People, often when they are in pain, react in ways that often turn out to be not the right way, but often there is nobody at fault. If you can learn to live [with change], you’ll learn to reach a new position where things are different, but you’ll get over it.”

Fried is currently toying with the idea of having one of the play’s discontented locals, a character who has not been happy about Jewish people coming to town and building a kosher meatpacking plant there, tip off the federal authorities and spark the immigration raid.

“But then, as the town starts to crater, that person and all the others begin to wonder what has been done — they’ve killed the goose that laid the golden egg,” he said. “My son, who is also playwright, said that this should be the third act. The Hasidim, who have been very isolationist all along, are now presented with a catalyst that shows them they have to deal more with the world.”

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