Suffrage in Black & White project intro and conversation

 

 

 

 

 

For the past year, we’ve been working with the National Park Service to create a series of three new site-specific plays. This week, we’ll gather all three of the playwrights for a conversation about our research and the sites. We’re still at the earliest phases of this project, but it’s a fun chance to look at the sprouts of what we hope will become a major production.

Here’s the official announcement:

Rooted in the abolitionist movement, the women’s suffrage movement in Boston provides a powerful lens to examine the intersection of race, gender, and politics in the city and beyond. In an innovative multi-phase project, the National Park Service and Revolutionary Spaces are working with Plays in Place to bring this history to life by creating three original site-specific plays.

Playwrights Patrick Gabridge, Miranda ADEkoje, and Ginger Lazarus have researched and conceptualized plays that will activate Boston’s historic spaces and dive into the connections between the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements in the city. Historical moments featured include: Angelina Grimke’s groundbreaking 1838 speech on abolition and women’s rights at the Massachusetts State House; Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin’s launching of the Black clubwomen’s movement in Beacon Hill in 1895; and the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association’s Faneuil Hall rally after the crushing defeat of the 1915 women’s suffrage state referendum.

Join the playwrights in conversation as they outline their initial concepts for these plays and invite you to offer your thoughts and feedback!

Ginger and Miranda are brilliant writers and good friends, and I’m grateful to be on this journey with them. Please join us to hear what we’ve been up to.

Here’s the link to register for this free webinar.

Thanks for your support! Stay tuned to some exciting projects coming up in June and this fall from Plays in Place and Revolutionary Spaces.

Plays in Place Pandemic Update

Plays in Place operates at the intersection of theatre and the museum worlds, and both sectors have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.  For 2020, we had planned for a revival of Blood on the Snow at the Old State House, a production of Patrick’s new play for the Roosevelt Cottage on Campobello Island, 180 performances of Miranda ADEkoje’s new play about Crispus Attucks at Old South Meeting House in Boston, and a concert reading/production of Moonlight Abolitionists at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Alas, none of those events were able to happen, much to our disappointment. It was going to be a busy year, with the potential of reaching many thousands of audience members with some terrific theatre (and employing many artists).

On the plus side, some of those projects were merely postponed. We still have high hopes for a production of Beloved Island: Windows on Campobello next summer in New Brunswick, Canada. I Am This Place, Miranda’s play, will get a workshop and ultimately a production, once we’re able to gather audiences at Old South again (middle of 2021?). We have a tentative date of late April for Moonlight Abolitionists, though that might shift, depending on the pandemic. And The Mount Auburn Plays book is now published in a beautiful new edition from Mount Auburn Cemetery.

In addition, Patrick has been commissioned by Revolutionary Spaces to write a new full-length play for Old South Meeting House, and we’ve signed a contract with the National Park Service to begin research and development for three new site-specific plays in Boston about Women’s Suffrage and the intersection with abolition and race (the overall project is titled Suffrage in Black and White). History at Play has licensed Cato & Dolly and will begin touring and streaming a production of the show sometime in 2021, and we’re very excited that audiences will continue to learn the stories of these two great characters.

And we’re always in conversation about other projects, so you never know what else might be coming down the line.  (Sign up for our mailing list, so you don’t miss anything.)

 

The Mount Auburn Plays book is published!

The Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery have just published The Mount Auburn Plays, a book that collects all of the plays that Patrick wrote and Plays in Place produced at the Cemetery. This includes the text of all The Nature Plays, The America Plays, and Moonlight Abolitionists, as well essays from Patrick, our director, Courtney O’Connor, and reflections from many of the actors. And lots of great color production photos. It’s really a beautiful book, and a great way to remember the shows if you were able to attend in 2019, or to read and explore the plays, if you weren’t able to see them in person.  You can purchase a copy directly from Mount Auburn.

Cato & Dolly on PBS

Last summer, we had the good fortune of having the folks from The Future of America’s Past a new PBS show, come film parts of Cato & Dolly at the Old State House and interview Patrick. The results show up in one of the newest episodes of this show, The Revolutions (we show up around minute 17, but watch the whole thing). This show focuses on the different methods of telling the public history of America, and we couldn’t be more pleased to be included.

Give it a watch right here:

Cato & Dolly hits the road.

This week Plays in Place will head to Burlington, Vermont, for the annual conference of the New England Museum Association, where Patrick and Courtney will team up with John Ferreira from The Bostonian Society to give a talk entitled: Cato & Dolly: Engaging Audiences and Sharing Unheard Voices Through Theatre,  which should be a lot of fun. Then on Thursday morning, actors Marge Dunn and Stephen Sampson will give a special performance of Cato & Dolly for conference members (at 9:45am, so we will need to make sure they are properly caffeinated). We’re looking forward to sharing this exciting project with other museum folks.

 

Critics Love The America Plays!

After a successful first weekend, the reviews are already out about The America Plays… and critics love it!

  • “[Patrick Gabridge’s] treatment of the dead is affectionate and affecting.” (Bill Marx – The Arts Fuse)
  • “[Courtney O’Connor’s] staging is intelligent, with an eye for the striking image.” (Bill Marx – The Arts Fuse)
  • “The removal of the ‘distraction’ of the natural beauty allowed us to sharpen our focus on the actors and the powerful messages of their characters.” (Nancy Grossman – BroadwayWorld Boston)
  • “It was completely natural, completely intentional, and incredibly beautiful.” (Kitty Drexel – The New England Theatre Geek)
  • “Gabridge has achieved the tricky balance of illustrating the problems and challenges in these characters while also paying homage to the legacy of Mount Auburn.” (Celina Colby – The Bay State Banner)
  • “’I can’t imagine a better way to understand what place means in history than to have an experience like this’ [audience member Merle Kummer] said.” (Andrea Shea – WBUR)

We think so too, Merle… The America Plays runs for 4 more SOLD OUT performances this weekend!

The America Plays Opens Today!

After two weeks of rehearsal, and over year of development by Plays in Place’s Producing Artistic Director Patrick Gabridge, The America Plays opens today!! The second series of The Mount Auburn Plays, the show illuminates the history of Mount Auburn Cemetery, as well as dives into the untold stories of some important figures who are buried there, including sculpture Edmonia Lewis, actress Charlotte Cushman, and the Amirian family, Armenian regufees who fled to the United States during the Armenian Genocide.

Tickets are selling fast, so get your now!

Show Dates:

Thursday, Sept. 12 at 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm

Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm

Sunday, Sept 15 at 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm

Thursday, Sept. 19 at 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm

Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm

Sunday, Sept. 22 at 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm

 

Tech Underway for The America Plays

The weekend, The America Plays started its final tech rehearsals before opening night on Thursday, September 12th. Tech rehearsals saw the incorporation of costumes, wigs, and some exciting sound elements. Tickets for The America Plays are ON SALE! Check out the photos below for a sneak-peak:

Arshan Gailus (Sound Designer) and Jamie Carty (Production Assistant Stage Manager)

Robert Najarian (Joseph Story, Garabed) and Amanda Mujica (Costume Designer)

The team rests during a break

Cast gets into costume

Tech run of final show

Meet the Cast of The America Plays!

With the first week of rehearsals for The America Plays almost over, it’s time to meet the cast!

 

Amanda Collins* (Harriet Hosmer, Asniv) Amanda has worked with many Boston-area theaters including the Huntington, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Co., Boston Playwrights’, Gloucester Stage, Wheelock Family Theater, Central Square Theatre, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT), Cape Rep, Publick Theatre, and Orfeo Group. Regional: The Outfit in NY and Philadelphia, American Stage in Florida, founding member of Harbor Stage Company. Upcoming shows: The Thanksgiving Play (Lyric Stage), Bright Half Life (Actors’ Shakespeare Project), The Lowell Offering (Merrimack Rep). She recently won an Elliot Norton Award for her performance in Merrimack Rep’s Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. Television: Olive Kitteridge (HBO), Castle Rock (Hulu) and Boston’s Finest (ABC Pilot) Film: Sea of Trees. Amanda is a proud member of Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA.

 

Ken Baltin* (Jacob Bigelow, Kaloosd) recently played Andrew Oliver in Patrick Gabridge’s Blood on the Snow at Boston’s Old State House. He appeared last season in Heartland at New Repertory Theatre, and in My Station in Life at Gloucester Stage Company for which he received an Eliot Norton Award as Outstanding Actor.  Other acclaimed productions on area stages include Death of a Salesman, Glengarry Glen Ross, Lost in Yonkers, Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Lyric Stage); Kite Runner, Eurydice, Waiting for Godot, American Buffalo (New Repertory Company); Deported-a dream play, King of the Jews, Permanent Whole Life (Boston Playwrights Theatre); Operation Epsilon (Nora Theatre); Copenhagen, A Screenwriter’s Daughter, and Not Constantinople (Vineyard Playhouse); Oleanna (Merrimack Repertory); Beckett in Brief (Commonwealth Shakespeare) and many others.

 

Cheryl D. Singleton* (Edmonia Lewis) is very pleased to be working with Plays in Place. Boston area credits include: Intimate Apparel and The Little Foxes (Lyric Stage Co.) Passing StrangeDollhouseRent and 1776 (New Repertory Theatre), Billy Elliot and James and the Giant Peach (Wheelock Family Theater), To Kill A Mockingbird (Gloucester Stage), Absence (Boston Playwright’s Theater), The Comedy of Errors (Commonwealth Shakespeare), The Seagull (American Repertory Theatre), The Superheroine Monologues (Phoenix Theatre Artists and Company One), Stuff Happens and The Kentucky Cycle (Zeitgeist Stage), as well as productions with Ryan Landry and The Gold Dust Orphans, Queer Soup and ImprovBoston. A proud member of Actors’ Equity and StageSource, Cheryl serves on three arts boards in the Boston community.

 

 

 

Matt Ryan (Martin Milmore, Tzolag) is very excited to be working with this talented group. Currently earning his MA in Theatre Education at Emerson College, he can also be seen acting around Boston, having recently been in the Mad Dash Play Fest for Fresh Ink Theatre. Thank you all for coming.

 

 

 

 

Karen MacDonald* (Harriot Kezia Hunt, Regina) Recent credits include Escaped Alone (Gamm Theatre), Universe Rushing Apart (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), Calendar Girls (Greater Boston Stage Company).  Regionally, she has  also appeared at the Huntington Theatre Company, Trinity Rep, Speakeasy Stage, New Rep, Greater Boston Stage Company, Gloucester Stage, Lyric Stage, Israeli Stage, Merrimack Rep Theatre, Portland Stage, Boston Playwrights Theatre, Boston Theatre Company, Sleeping Weazel, The Vineyard Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Shakespeare and Co. and Berkshire Playwrights Lab. A Founding Company Member of the American Repertory Theatre, she appeared in 74 productions, including The Sea Gull, Mother Courage and her Children, No Exit. On Broadway, she understudied and performed the role of Amanda Wingfield in John Tiffany’s revival of The Glass Menagerie. Nationally, she has performed at Hartford Stage, The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, The Alley Theatre and Berkeley Rep, among others. She is the recipient of several IRNE Awards and Elliot Norton Awards for her performances. She received The Robert Brustein Award for Sustained Achievement  in The Theater and the Elliot Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence. She teaches at the Harvard Extension School and is a faculty member at Theater, Dance & Media at Harvard.

 

Robert Najarian* (Jospeh Story, Garabed) is an actor, fight choreographer, instructor, and author. As a performer – New York:  Sleep No More (Punchdrunk/Emursive,) Daybreak (Pan Asian Repertory Theater,) Macbeth (Shelter Theater.) Regional:  Sleep No More (American Repertory Theater,) Talley’s Folly (Purple Rose Theater Company,) The Kite Runner (New Repertory Theatre,) Copenhagen,Einstein’s Dreams (Central Square Theatre,) Hamlet, Intimate Apparel (Theater at Monmouth), Trajectories (Evet Arts Chicago,) Take Me Out(Speakeasy Stage Company,) Don Giovanni (Washington National Opera,) Shear Madness (Charles Street Playhouse.) Fight choreography for numerous theaters including American Repertory Theater, SITI Company / Emerson Stage, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet, and Trinity Repertory Company. Former faculty at University of Michigan, Boston University, College of the Holy Cross, and Harvard University. MFA: The Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University. BA: Bowdoin College. Union Member: AEA, SAG-AFTRA, SDC. His book The Art of Unarmed Stage Combat is available through Routledge.

 

Sarah Newhouse* (Mary Bigelow, Charlotte Cushman, Takoohy) is a Boston-based actor/director/producer/educator who has long admired the beauty of Mt Auburn Cemetery, and is delighted to have the opportunity to spend even more time within its gates. Some favorite Boston area credits include The King Stag, Macbeth, Picasso at the Lapin-Agile (American Repertory Theater); Desdemona-a play about a handkerchief (BCA); The River Was Whiskey (Boston Playwrights); The Apple Family Plays (Greater Boston Stage Co.); Legacy of LightLost in Yonkers, and The Miracle Worker (Lyric Stage Company); The Norman Conquests (Gloucester Stage Company); DollHouse (New Repertory Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It (Publick Theatre); and Shear Madness(Charles Playhouse). Ms. Newhouse is also a founding company member of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, with whom she has performed more than 20 roles in 14 years. This winter, she will appear in The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), directed by Chris Edwards. Sarah is a graduate of Hampshire College and the ART Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University, and lives in Watertown with her spouse and newly minted college freshman.

 

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)

 

Tickets for The America Plays are ON SALE NOW!

Rehearsals Start for The America Plays

This week, rehearsals start for The America Plays, the second series of site-specific plays to be performed at Mount Auburn Cemetery written by playwright-in-residence, Patrick Gabridge, and directed by Courtney O’Connor.

The America Plays is a quintet of short plays that sheds light on the dramas, philosophies, and struggles of those buried in the cemetery. Through the interwoven stories of figures like Jacob Bigelow, the architect of Mount Auburn Cemetery and prominent Boston physician, and Thomas Amirian, an Armenian refugee who came to Cambridge with his family in hopes of starting a new life, The America Plays offers a universal message of hope through despair through stories that span over a century.

The creative team had a lot of fun diving into the script during the first read-through yesterday, and is excited to explore more of the histories of these real-life figures over the rehearsal process. Stay tuned to find out who is who in the cast…!

Tickets for The America Plays are ON SALE NOW. Tickets are $35 and $30 for Mount Auburn Cemetery members. Performances run September 12-22 every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM.