TRIANGLE | TAZREEN
Conceived, written & directed by Kevin Doyle
Created by Hosne Ara Akter, Nasima Akhter, Rehena Akter, Bilkis Begum, Jorina Begum, and Sobita Rane.
Translation provided by Catherine Masud and Shubho Saha, with support from Taslima Akter, Robin Berson, Willem Gees, Dr. Rashid Haroon, and the Puppet Theatre Research Center of Bangladesh.
Six Bangladeshi women who survived the 2012 Tazreen Fashions Factory Fire outside Dhaka -- Hosne Ara Akter, Nasima Akhter, Rehena Akter, Bilkis Begum, Jorina Begum, and Sobita Rane -- fight to achieve justice while struggling to survive due to a lack of compensation from Walmart and factory owners, for their injuries in the fire. Eight thousand miles away in New York City, descendants of victims in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire -- Suzanne Bass, Robin Berson, and others -- attempt to raise funds to complete a public memorial to commemorate the dead.
These two workplace disasters are nearly identical. They are intrinsically linked not only by the garments industry itself, the poor labor conditions for workers, the circumstances surrounding each fire, the casualty figures and cause of death for victims -- but in how each tragic event was treated in their own country. Consumers across two different centuries have mutually ignored pleas for justice from survivors. One can take perspectives from Tazreen in our recent present, and superimpose them over aspects from Triangle in our distant past -- and the two disasters will align perfectly. Triangle and Tazreen are the same event; one is the extension and expression of the other. They represent our collective inability to confront inherent contradictions embedded within the garments industry -- and the advertising, fashion, retail, commercial real estate, and N.G.O. industries which depend on it.
TRIANGLE | TAZREEN will be a multidisciplinary arts project, written and directed by Kevin Doyle, that culminates in a live collaboration between Tazreen survivors and Triangle descendants; which places every aspect of the last 110 years of our contemporary “Exponential Slave Trade” on actual TRIAL before a live audience. Weaving courtroom transcripts from 1911 in New York within performed re-enactments of the Bangladeshi legal system, TRIANGLE | TAZREEN attempts to provide through art the actual justice that has eluded the six Tazreen survivors for 10 years, and the Triangle victims for over 100 years. A feature-length documentary film (of the same title) will also be made that traces the entire creative process; to broaden the scope and reach of the project for audiences unable to witness the live event.
TRIANGLE | TAZREEN is an artistic attempt to re-frame and re-situate our contemporary understanding of the international garments industry and reveal it for what it is -- modern slavery.
My goal is to create a multidisciplinary work of art to transcend the limits of protest and reporting; art that circumvents barriers to reform, not only on factory floors in Bangladesh, but in the shopping habits of Western consumers. It is the labor of these six Tazreen survivors -- Hosne Ara, Nasima, Rehena, Bilkis, Jorina, and Sobita -- that has created the clothing many of us have been wearing for the last 30+ years. The toll of this labor on their lives (and upon their families) has been conveniently kept out of our consumerist view. This needs to change. This multidisciplinary project has the capacity to make this change a reality through art.
The horror and sorrow of what I captured on film during my initial work with these Tazreen survivors is unlike anything I've encountered in my life. I was not prepared for it. My interpreter openly wept on several occasions; at times, rendered unable to translate further. I admit to openly weeping as I designed these pages for the project on my website. Sometimes, I have no words.
But Hosne Ara, Nasima, Rehena, Bilkis, Jorina, and Sobita have found the words. They have already articulated it – the entire breadth and range of their experiences. It exists now in a tangible form. Hosne Ara, Nasima, Rehena, Bilkis, Jorina, and Sobita have already provided solutions to dramaturgical questions. These women have already illustrated ways to channel aspects of their experiences via different artistic mediums, like film and theatre, and fuse it with perspectives of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory descendants. The Tazreen women are incredibly intelligent, hard-working, articulate, resilient, and strong-willed. They have beautiful families, strong bonds of friendship, and still express a joy for life that it is inspiring. We share the same affinity for an absurd “gallows” sense of humor. They possess an awareness of the futility of their situation, yet are capable of connecting what has happened to them in Bangladesh to larger social and economic forces on an international scale.
American and European audiences deserve to meet Hosne Ara, Nasima, Rehena, Bilkis, Jorina, and Sobita. The TRIANGLE | TAZREEN project is the work of art that can bypass the superstructures that conceal the Tazreen women from our view. This project is an opportunity to facilitate this meeting and permit these six women to speak to us directly through the vehicle of art.
As of September 2021, the TRIANGLE | TAZREEN project has been generously supported by an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council and a Global Connections IN THE LAB grant from Theatre Communications Group and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
There are six individual pages on this website devoted to a different aspect of the TRIANGLE | TAZREEN project. To protect the Tazreen women (and their families) from reprisals and further persecution in Bangladesh , each page is password-protected and encrypted. Arts presenters and grant panelists are urged to please contact Kevin Doyle via the email form HERE to obtain access to these web pages -- in order to receive a comprehensive view of this urgent project.
The six pages, in sequential order, are:
TRIANGLE | TAZREEN project is Copyright 2021 Kevin Doyle.