SPRINGFIELD — An upcoming play, hosted by the Springfield Armory and produced by In the Spotlight, will give a glimpse into the work of Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to a presidential Cabinet position.
Perkins, a Massachusetts native, served from 1933 to 1945 as the secretary of labor during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency and is known as the principal architect of the Social Security Act.
Perkins outlined a set of policy priorities for the president, including 40-hour work weeks, a minimum wage, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation, abolition of child labor and more, according to the Frances Perkins Center.
The one-shot play, titled “A Woman’s Work,” will star Jarice Hanson, a SAG-AFTRA actor, author and professor emerita for the Department of Communications at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was unavailable for comment.
Hanson will portray Perkins in the play and later answer questions from the audience in character, according to Shera Cohen, founder of In the Spotlight. Cohen said Hanson also wrote the script for the play.
“I have seen her in so many plays, she’s an equity actress, and I just thought she fit the role perfectly, and she was in love with her character,” Cohen said. “That comes out in the play.”
In an email, Cohen said In the Spotlight chose to produce the play on Sunday to extend Labor Day into Labor Week.
Amy Glowacki, program manager at the Springfield Armory, said the reason the play is being hosted at the National Historic Site is to further celebrate Perkins’ contributions to the working class.
“Our main goal is to connect with the community of Springfield and surrounding areas, who have direct ties to the armory,” Glowacki said. Droves of local people worked at the armory, which was in operation from 1797 to 1968.
Cohen said the play is free to the public. “I hope to see people of all generations and perhaps some that will remember the beginning of Social Security, and appreciate the benefits we still have in 2023 because of this woman,” Cohen said.
The play was funded by a $1,000 grant from the Springfield Cultural Council, according to its website.
The performance will run from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the National Historic Site at 1 Armory St.