Freewheelers  ·  2013

The invention of the bicycle and the industrialization of the corset collide, setting in motion an unlikely friendship and the ride of a lifetime for two women as the twentieth century approaches.

Elizabeth, the wife of the city's corset factory owner, sits lonely and still in her finest attire. Her breath is short. Her chest feels tight. Inside her heart is yearning for... something.

Across town, Anne, a factory girl, fights to support her family. Ever industrious and practical, she bravely employs a new invention that just might help her: the bicycle.

When Anne crashes her bicycle in front of the gate of the corset factory, their worlds collide in ways they never could have imagined.  

Freewheelers tells the story of the historical collision between the bicycle and the corset through song, dance, and cycling. To bring this show to life, we transformed a neglected warehouse, owned by Olympia Properties, on Chapel Street and turned it into a vibrant gathering space where we performed Freewheelers.

“Broken Umbrella Theatre shows in this work that its artistry is as great as any major theater in Connecticut.”
— Frank Rizzo, The Hartford Courant, 6/18/2013
“Freewheelers, with its effective score and songs by Chrissy Gardner, does a fine job of combining the troupe’s historical interests with a contemporary vibe to arrive at a little machine as efficient as a well-oiled bike.”
— Donald Brown, New Haven Review

Associated Activities

  • Labor history bike tour with Elm City Cycling
  • Corset history walking tour with New Haven historian Colin Caplan
  • Master class with students of all ages

Community Partners

Alderman-Dow Iron & Metal Co. 
Devil's Gear Bike Shop
International Festival of Arts & Ideas
Luminous Environments
Olympia Properties

Freewheelers was part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in June of 2013, and was funded in part by an Arts Catalyzed Placemaking Grant from the State of Connecticut.