Did you know that North Adams was once home to the second-largest Chinese population east of the Mississippi? The Celestials transports us to 1870 as seventy-five Chinese laborers—and unwitting strikebreakers—arrive in this bustling factory town. Charged relationships develop between the immigrants and townspeople, centering on foreman Charles Sing, factory owner Calvin Sampson, and his wife Julia, complicating an already tense situation. A tale of labor, love, immigration, and community, Peter Glazer’s theatrical adaptation of Williamstown author Karen Shepard’s mesmerizing novel, The Celestials, shines a light on a little-known, yet startling familiar moment of our city’s history.
The photo above depicts Charles Sing, foreman of the Chinese workers in North Adams, taken by Henry Ward circa 1873. In this production, the role of Charles Sing will be played by actor Elijah Guo.
This play was originally intended to be presented during our canceled 2020 season.
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Make a Plan
- This performance is general admission seating and will take place inside MASS MoCA’s Club B10. Masks are optional during indoor performances but may be required in the event of a change in Berkshire County risk levels.
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Planning on dinner before the show? Check out restaurants in downtown North Adams or find a nosh right here on campus: BIGGDADDY’s Philly Steak House, Bright Ideas Brewing, Casita or Lickety Split Cafe. A full bar serves Bright Ideas Brewing beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits.
Charles Sing, foreman of the Chinese workers in North Adams
Photograph by Henry Ward, ca. 1873
Played by actor Elijah Guo.
Image courtesy of Anna Parrino