Blood on the Snow 2017 is now closed.

Matt Ryan as John Hancock and Craig Ciampa as Samuel Adams

After 59 performances, the 2017 run of Blood on the Snow at the Old State House in Boston is finally over. This is the longest any of my shows has ever run, and that’s not even counting the initial 4-week run last year.  For the second time, we basically sold out the entire run, which was very exciting. It’s a small house (56 seats), which makes for an intimate, immersive theatrical experience.  We had more than 3,000 audience members over the course of the run.  (Interesting stat–22% of the first year’s audience returned to see the show a second time this season.)

Most of our cast returned for the second run, and we were very fortunate to pick up extremely talented replacements and understudies.  Our production team of producer/museum liaison Peter Meacham, stage manager Jeremiah Mullane, and director Courtney O’Connor managed a complex casting calendar–with a cast of 10 over 12 weeks, with various scheduled absences–and kept the show running at a high level, seamlessly for the entire run.

I still have a lot to process from the whole experience (and will write about it eventually), but one of the more interesting aspects of such a long run was watching the performances deepen and mature over time. This is a play set in 1770, in a Boston that had a population of only 15,000 and everyone knew everyone. Especially the men in this room. After 3 months of a run (and for some of the actors, 2 years of performing together), there were glances and gestures between these people that really felt like they’d known each other for a long time. The level of detail of performance just kept getting richer and richer, with each passing week.

I’m already missing the cast and crew for this show. It’s common to experience a bit of post-partum depression at the end of a run, and this project is one that I’d been working on since 2013. (I’m doing carpentry on my house to keep me from moping around too much.)  There’s a strong chance that the show will come back again, and I’ve always got new projects coming up. This production will always be close to my heart.

In case you want to hear a bit about the show, here’s a video of me and Nat Sheidley (Executive Director of the Bostonian Society) at History Camp Boston this spring, talking about the 2016 production.

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Both/And and Quantum Physics on PRI

My quantum physics play, Both/And, has closed its run at the MIT Museum (though I harbor hopes it might be back someday.  But even if you missed the show, you can get the gist of it and the experiment by listening to this really fun radio story by Ari Daniel that ran on PRI’s The World:

and if you go view the story on their website, it has some pretty nifty diagrams that help make the whole idea of quantum entanglement a little bit clearer.

 

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Santa to play in Lexington, KY

Santa Doesn’t Live Here Anymore continues to hit the stages around the world. This time it will be produced by the Studio Players in Lexington, Kentucky, from August 10-14, as part of their annual ten-minute play festival.  If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll check it out!  This is the 17th production and reading for this play so far, in 3 countries and 8 states.

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Blood on the Snow mostly sold out (but you still might get tickets)

Matt Ryan as John Hancock, and Craig Ciampa as Samuel Adams. Photo by Justin Saglio

Blood on the Snow has now finished the first 8 weeks of its 12-week run at the Old State House in Boston. The response from audiences and critics has continued to be enthusiastic, night after night. Which has led to sold out houses every night, and we’re actually sold out for the rest of the run!

It is still possible to see the show–sometimes reserved tickets get put back into the pool, and we’ll put out announcements via social media. And there is also a waiting list every night that opens at 6:30pm (the show starts at 7pm).  There are almost always a few seats available, so if you get there right at 6:30, I think you’ve got a decent shot.

Scot Colford as Mr. Baker, photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots

 

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Video about the Cosmic Bell Experiment (and Both/And)

There are just four performances left of Both/And, the play about quantum entanglement that I was commissioned to write by the Central Square Theater and the MIT Museum.  August 5 and 6 at 1:30pm and 3pm. It was a particularly challenging play to write because the topic and concept of quantum entanglement is so difficult to comprehend. Which is what made it all the more fun to create.

Here’s a short video that the MIT Museum put together about the project:

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Catching Up: Santa in Seoul (back in December)

I’m still catching up on some past productions. In this case, one the actors from last August’s AND Theatre Festival contacted me about doing a reading of Santa Doesn’t Live Here Anymore in a coffee shop at Christmastime in Seoul.  Gwangho Kim is a super nice guy and an actor with a lot of positive energy. And after my great adventure in Korea last year, I was eager to have more of my work done there.  (I’m getting my wish, several times over.)

But I didn’t hear anything for a while. Turns out e-mails got lost in the ether, and while I was gone in Idaho, I finally heard from heard from Gwangho–turns out the reading was a lot of fun, and he sent me some great photos.  I just wish I could have been there!

 

 

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Catching Up: Treacherous Beauty at NEHGS

Robert P. Murphy, Alexander Platt, Ida Esmaeili, Barlow Adamson, and me

We’re on the verge of July, but I haven’t had a chance to post photos and news from events that happened in May. I’m going to try to catch up a little bit.

On May 25th, the New England Historic Genealogical Society hosted a reading from a new screenplay I’ve been writing.  Treacherous Beauty is based on a book by the same name by Mark Jacob and Stephen H. Case, about Benedict Arnold and his wife Peggy Shippen. Their plot to betray the forts at West Point to the British in 1780 nearly put an end to the American Revolution. In some ways, they are the most dangerous couple in American History.

We had an enthusiastic and attentive crowd in the gorgeous room in the NEHGS headquarters right on Newbury Street in Boston. I am constantly reminded of the extremely deep talent pool in Boston every time I work on a project. This time we had Alexander Platt reading the role of Benedict Arnold, Ida Esmaeili reading Peggy Shippen, and Robert P. Murphy and Barlow Adamson each reading multiple roles.  We had them read selected scenes from the script, and I filled in the rest of the story. And then we had a discussion with the audience about this thrilling story and critical moment in American History.

We’re pitching this around Hollywood right now. It’ll take a lot of luck, but maybe someday we’ll all get to see the story on the big screen.

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Seven Devils: design meeting and set drawings

One of the great parts of the Seven Devils script development process is the design meeting. I got to spend part of an afternoon meeting with design fellow Sabrina Reed, my director Christy Montour-Larson, dramaturg Gay Smith, and Seven Devils artistic director, Jeni Mahoney, talking about the physical world of my play, Drift, and how it might be realized on stage. I talked about where the play came from, and about farming, and they asked all kinds of questions about colors and texture, and realism v. non-reality, my best imagined production and my worst.

It’s a helpful way to remind a writer who’s been living in his head for a while about some of the physical and visual possibilities of the staging of this piece, as it all starts to feel more real. And in the ends, we had a cool drawing of how one designer might set the play.

A rendering of a set design by Seven Devils Design Fellow, Sabrina Reed

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I’m back from Seven Devils. (Wow!)

Table work on Drift. Photo by Maggie Rosenthal

I’m finally getting a chance to catch my breath a little, after an extremely busy start to the year. It was all capped off with a 17-day stay at the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho, where I workshopped my play, Drift.  I’d had the good fortune to be selected to work on my play, Flight, back in 2011, but had to leave after only a few days, due to a death in our family.  I’d been working and hoping to get back to McCall ever since.

Sheila McDevitt in the reading of Drift. PHoto by Sarah Jessup.

Jonathan Bangs in Drift. Photo by Sarah Jessup

Mirirai Sithole in Drift. Photo by Sarah Jessup.

Danette Baker in Drift. Photo by Sarah Jessup.

It’s a gorgeous place, and the first week I was there, I spent every possible moment working on the play with my director, Christy Montour Larson, dramaturg Gay Smith, stage manager Dana Reiland, and our fabulous cast of Sheila McDevitt, Mirirai Sithole, Jonathan Bangs, and Danette Baker.  I’d get up early and write, then rehearse all day, then come back and write some more. On Saturday night, we had a fully staged reading for a sold-out house. And the audiences there, after 17 seasons of the conference, are very smart and sophisticated when it comes to discussing new plays.

For the second week, I helped dramaturg a new play by Dayna Smith, which had a sit-down reading as part of its development. And I got to see readings of all the other plays by my fellow writers, attend a writer’s workshop from Elaine Romero, and go to a bunch of other fun events. And spend some time at the Burgdorf hot springs (super rustic, super relaxing) chilling out after a long week.

Seven Devils is the kind of experience that I’d want to give to every playwright at some point in their career. There’s an entire artistic community that forms with an intense focus on helping the playwrights explore, change, and refine their scripts. And they’ve also engaged the greater community–so local businesses donate space and material and money to help make it all work. Local residents help provide housing for almost 50 visiting artists who are coming in from all across the country.

I stayed in a cozy apartment above a garage about five miles out of McCall, surrounded by miles of pastureland, ringed by snow tinged mountains. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect spot to work on this particular play.

Now I’m back to my regular life. Excited to see my family, settling into summer . Working on a new play, with Blood on the Snow still running at the Old State House, and Both/And still at the MIT Museum.

But behind it all, I’ve still got the afterglow my time at Seven Devils. I made solid strides on Drift, and I got to work with some really great people. I hope to work with them again, and to find a way to get back to McCall someday. We’ll see what the future holds for Drift.

Seven Devils 2017! photo by Sarah Jessup

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A very busy month: events and productions of my work in May

May is a super busy month for my work.  Here are the events and shows happening around the country. I hope you can check some of them out.  (Please e-mail me if you do, or if you see me, come say Hello.)

  • Stop Rain, a short play, was produced at Actors Workshop in Ithaca, NY, on May 3.
  • My short play, Spitting Image was at Payson High School in Payson, AZ, on May 4.
  • My short play, The Discovery, was produced at the Bethune School, in Bethune, CO, on May 5.
  • My short play, Pumpkin Patch, was produced at the Henry W. Grady High School, in Atlanta, May 5-6.
  • My one-minute play, Polaroids, will be in the Gi60 International Play Festival on May 13, at the University of Leeds, 7:30 p.m.
  • My short play Eden in Chains will be in the Boston Theater Marathon on May 14 at the Calderwood Pavilion Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts. This event features 50 ten-minute plays by New England playwrights, from noon until 10 p.m. (My show is in the 9 o’clock hour.) Plus the event supports the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund!
  • On Tuesday, May 16, at 7 p.m., Porter Square Books will host the official launch for StageSource’s New England New Play Anthology, a fantastic collection that I edited, by some of New England’s best playwrights. We’ll have actors read from scenes from the plays.
  • On Thursday, May 18, at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be part of the Four Stories reading series at the Middle East Restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge. Actor Marc Pierre will read from my novel, Steering to Freedom, about Civil War hero Robert Smalls.
  • My one-act about quantum entanglement, Both/And, continues to run at the MIT Museum. This month it will play on May 20, 21, 29 at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • My one-act, The Next Big Thing, will be at St. Anne’s School of Annapolis, in Maryland, May 24.
  • On Tuesday, May 25, at 6 p.m., I will be giving a talk with Stephen H. Case at the New England Historic Genealogical Society about Benedict Arnold and his wife Peggy Shippen and their plot to betray America during the Revolutionary War. We’ll have actors read scenes from a screenplay that I’ve written based on Stephen’s book, Treacherous Beauty.
  • And at the end of the month (June 1, actually), Blood on the Snow will return to the Old State House for a 12-week run. Last year the show sold out very fast–this year there will be plenty of chances to see this site-specific play about the day after the 1770 Boston Massacre. (But don’t wait to get your tickets.)
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