There’s lots happening with Plays in Place this week. On Friday, we start rehearsals for Moonlight Abolitionists at Mount Auburn Cemetery, and we open for performances coming up on September 20, 21, and 22, under the full moon. We’re desperately hoping for clear weather, but we’re fortunate to have a great indoor backup in Bigelow Chapel. All three shows sold out very fast–they went on sale on a Friday and by the following Monday all the tickets were gone.
We also start rehearsals this Sunday for I Am This Place, a new one-act play we commissioned (in partnership with Revolutionary Spaces) from Miranda ADEkoje, directed by Pascale Florestal, about Crispus Attucks and his African and Native American ancestors. This play will be staged at Old South Meeting House in October.
We also have a new office, where Patrick is desperately trying to get unpacked before heading back to Boston for the shows and rehearsals. We’re in a fantastic studio/office space in an old carriage barn built in the 1870s in Florence, MA, right near the site of a 19th century interracial, utopian community. (Photos to come.)
Plays in Place will return to live performances next month with Moonlight Abolitionists at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA, September 20-22, 8pm. This concert reading is a swirling conversation between six abolitionists buried at the Cemetery, designed to be performed outdoors, under the full moon. It’s an experience not to be missed.
Tickets have just gone on sale and seating is limited so they will go fast. You can get tickets here. Megan Sandberg-Zakian is directing a cast that includes Steven Barkhimer, Rachel Cognata, Amanda Collins, Alexander Platt, Damon Singletary, and Lewis D. Wheeler.
We’ve had such great experiences at Mount Auburn, so it’s a thrill to return with this play. Being in the Cemetery at night, under the full moon is a unique experience and the play makes the most of the power of the place and the history of these six people who fought so hard for freedom.
We’ve just released our latest project—Imagining the Age of Phillis—and this one you can easily experience from the comfort of your own home. In partnership with Revolutionary Spaces, we’ve just produced eight short films based on poems and imagined letters from the astonishing and powerful book, The Age of Phillis, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, directed by Boston filmmaker John ADEkoje.
You can view the films at the Revolutionary Spaces web site.
We filmed all the pieces at the Old State House and at Old South Meeting House in Boston, with a very talented cast of Cheryl Singleton, Tailinh Ogoyo, Brandon Green, Marc Pierre, Regine Vital, and Sabrina Victor.
We hope you’ll check out this exploration of history, race, language, and Phillis Wheatley Peters. The book is amazing, and John’s short films have risen to match it. (If you do enjoy them, please help spread the word via social media or any other venue—we’re eager for more people to see these pieces.)
Plays in Place will return to live performances this fall. Be sure to save the dates in your calendar to attend Moonlight Abolitionists at Mount Auburn Cemetery, September 20-22. This concert reading is a swirling conversation between six abolitionists buried at the Cemetery, designed to be performed outdoors, under the full moon. (We’ll let you know when tickets are available. Seating is limited and they will go very fast.) And also save room for I Am This Place, a new one-act play by Miranda ADEkoje about Crispus Attucks and his ancestors that we’ll produce at Old South Meeting House for 10 performances, October 15-24.
Thanks as always for your support of our company and our partners!
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 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.
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:
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.
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!