Female Heroes in ‘Rivets’ Musical

By Tenzin Shakya

Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008  on the Inquirer

During World War II, American men left for the battlefields, and women had to take care of home. But this was not just the typical cooking and cleaning.

For the first time in U.S. history, women began taking jobs previously held by men in shipyards and factories. This is where the story of the musical, “Rivets,” comes alive.

Written by Kathryn G. McCarty, with music by Mitchell Covington,

“Rivets” is directed by Clay David of Contra Costa College and includes performances by several DVC students. The play is performed on the SS Red Oak, an original Victory ship, built during World War II and now parked at the Kaiser Richmond Shipyard.

To board, the audience must walk up a heavy metal plank punched with holes and then navigate up a narrow stairway.

The play opens with the cast singing, “Another Day,” relating to the daily chores and hardships the workers – women, blacks and Hispanics – faced in the Richmond Kaiser Shipyards.

DVC student Daniel Rogers, 19, plays “hopeful Henry,” a blind musician in love with “Biddie,” an African American singer.

Rogers said he jumped at the opportunity to play the part.

“This is the third run of the performance, and still I have not had enough,” he said. Kady Brown, 21, plays the role of Irene, a notoriously beautiful girl who receives many love letters from the men at war.

“With ‘Rivets’, it is especially stressful because the scenes flow right into each other, and there’s hardly a time when you’re not onstage,” Brown said. Other DVC students include Clayton Shore.

“This is the story of our parents, our grandparents,” said McCarty. “It’s an important part of history that should not be forgotten.”

McCarty said she researched the history for 10 years prior to writing the play.

At the end of a recent performance, the director announced that two of the original “Rosie the Riveters” who worked on the ship were in the audience. They received a loud round of applause.

“Rivets” will be performed on the SS Red Oak until Oct. 26. Call 925-676-5705 to get tickets. Cost is $20 for general admission; $15 for students.

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