Out of This Furnace by Andy Wolk

The Youngstown State University Department of Theater and Dance presents the play “Out of This Furnace by Andy Wolk. A dramatic adaptation of Thomas Bell's tale about three generations of immigrant families struggling to build a life in the shadow of Andrew Carnegie's first steel mill and the rise of unions in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Out of this Furnace

  • 02/26/15 OUT OF THIS FURNACE 7:30 pm Bliss Hall Ford Theater
  • 02/27/15 OUT OF THIS FURNACE 7:30 pm Bliss Hall Ford Theater
  • 02/28/15 OUT OF THIS FURNACE 7:30 pm Bliss Hall Ford Theater
  • 03/01/15 OUT OF THIS FURNACE 2:00 pm Bliss Hall Ford Theater

Tickets available at: ysu.tix.com.

Out of This Furnace is a historical novel and the best-known work of the American writer Thomas Bell. The novel is set in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a steel town just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along the Monongahela River. It was first published in 1941 by Little, Brown and Company. The novel is based upon Bell's own family of Rusyn and Slovak immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The story follows three generations of a family, starting with their migration in 1881 from Austria- Hungary region to the United States, and finishing with the 1942-1945 World War II Era. The novel focuses on the steelworkers' attempt to unionize from 1889, the first Homestead strike (mentioned by Andrej on p. 38) through the big Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, the Great Steel Strike of 1919 right after World War I, and the events of the 1930s (Labor Organizing). The common connection of struggle, poverty, and personal needs of the characters influenced by forces out of their control, come together to tell a story of a tragic depiction of a truly troubled group of people. Shared with unbearable financial adversity, the Rusyns and Slovaks nicknamed "Hunkies" were also exposed to discrimination by other "Americans”. The novel's title refers to the blast furnace making iron – the start of all iron and steel processing and the central role of the steel mill in the family's life and in the history of the Pittsburgh region. Everything described in this novel about Pittsburgh and the life of immigrants can be applied to the immigrants living in the steel center cities of the Youngstown / Mahoning Valley, Cleveland, Ohio and East Chicago/Gary, IN.

Long out of print, the novel was rediscovered in the 1970s by David P. Demarest, a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, who convinced director Frederick A. Hetzel at the University of Pittsburgh Press to reissue it in 1976. The book quickly became a regional bestseller. By the 1980s, however, it found an even larger readership on American college campuses. Out of This Furnace is regularly used as required reading in universities to introduce students to the history of immigration, industrialization, and the rise of trade unionism, as well as to the genre of the American working class novel.