Wearing a blue denim shirt, black laced work boots and a red and white polka dot hair band Kathleen Denny takes us back to her time working at Alameda Naval station. She tells us about how she came to California some years ago, to work in the machine shop – where she found herself the sole female. One might imagine the atmosphere in such a setting before #MeToo and the possible changes in today’s work settings. Kathleen is ready to tell you about her experience and it’s fascinating!
However, injustice was not limited to being female, Van, a black man also experienced it and the two of them chatted in between shifts.Denny makes these dialogues real by adjustment sin her position and looking over her shoulder to see if anyone is listening. All the conversations Denny enacts have authenticity and the machine shop comes alive!
Denny is a compelling performer, she is physical with gestures and movement and her delivery is fluid, clear and nuanced. The story is well crafted and moves along as she talks about several other characters and reactions to certain posters and calendars typical in this setting. An example of her writing based on her experience is when she describes vital machine parts that she is responsible for making – the landing gear of a plane. With clear gestures she draws the shape shape in the air and describes the precision needed when the mechanism unfolds, telescopes down and vice versa when the plane takes off or lands.
Some of her work mates are friendly and encouraging – others less so. Her voice, face and posture change as she introduces Bill, Herman and the Latvian guy, among others.The Union becomes involved at one point, adding to the atmosphere of the story.
The characters are finely drawn by Dennythrough her vivid descriptions and direct conversations. It is interesting that she is not over the top in her debate – she follows her goal for sure – but is reasonable and logical as opinions unfold. One fascinating point is that she lets her characters and their comments pull themselves into the question of tolerance by what they say and do.
Denny is a female in a man’s world and is standing up for her rights – and we can learn from how she does it. Recommended!
Published September 9, 2018 by Jo Tomalin