Original work, written by Kristina Wacome Stevick of History Alive, Salem, MA
Directed by Kimberly LaCroix
Stage Managed by Maddison Shea
Featuring: Macey Jennings, Rachel Gawlak, Kristi-Lynn Craig and Tess McKinley as the four Annes.
June 9 & 23
July 14 & 28
August 1 & 25:
At the Ipswich Museum Whipple House, 75 S. Main Street, Ipswich, Massachusetts
Nearly 350 years after Anne Bradstreet’s death, I marvel at the thousands of lines of versified history, politics, science, and astronomy Anne wrote while also birthing, nursing, managing property, hosting, “homeschooling,” and merely surviving the harsh life of nascent New England. What is perhaps the most instructive is the finesse with which she stood for women’s intellect without alienating herself from her contemporary Puritans, a people not known for their tolerance of dissenting opinions.
I am fortunate to have a theatre career that makes use of my pre-motherhood experience and which can still bend with my longing to parent attentively. I wrote this play when my babies were young. I wanted to produce it so that other women would have more opportunity to exercise their artistic prowess without feeling they were sacrificing the needs of their children. But also to draw on the incredible experiences of women at different stages in their lives to teach and care for each other. As an artistic director, I’m still imagining what a parenting-friendly theatre company could become. This production is a shift after 25 years of being mostly centered around the lives of unattached young people. But the need in theatre for mid-career artists is great, and I want History Alive, Inc. to be part of answering that need.
But maybe my subject matter seems old fashioned. Can Anne speak to our present American dilemma--manipulated as we are into political polarities? Inundated with daily craziness? Anne grew into her best work by nesting in her domestic sphere. I believe the sounds and rhythms of her childrearing, housework and love-making built the structure of her verse. I’ll never forget recognizing the breath rhythm of a nursing baby in her poem of longing for her husband. When she listened to what was immediately around her, she grew more innovative in her poetic forms. But it was Anne’s engagement with the present crises of her time — The “Great Migration” the English Civil War, the execution of King Charles I -— that transitioned her writing from imitative and erudite to original and relatable. The body of her work reveals a gravitation from self-consciously trying to prove her worthiness in a male literary world to confident writing that is more gutsy and vulnerable. She got political in her middle age. In her last years, she chronicled her journey of faith and voiced her doubts and frustrations. Her God wasn’t threatened.
I’m beholden to and emboldened by America’s first famous working mother, for rousing the world with her wit, then making poetry of the most intimate realms of her life. She reminds us of the worthiness of both public and private work, whether undertaken in phases or concurrently. She exemplifies the value of the voice from the hearth and the nursery in the worldwide conversation, on topics both intimate and global. She made room for her children to question. It is diversity of ideas in respectful, educated, constructive dialogue that make America great. How we need Anne now.