2012 marks the 400th birthday of America’s first published poet, Anne Dudley Bradstreet, who arrived in Salem Harbor in June of 1630. To celebrate Mistress Bradstreet’s birth, Gordon College’s History Alive! program has created an original play incorporating her poetry and life story.
Titled From the Author to My Dear and Loving Husband, the play explores how a genteel and sickly teenager grew to nurture eight healthy children, establish several communities, and write thousands of lines of published poetry. The actresses—Amelia Haas of Boston, Kim Lamoureux of North Reading, Amy Courage of Salem and Emily Cox of Gloucester-—portray Bradstreet at different stages in her life. These “Annes” also form a chorus of animated objects necessary to survival in the 17th century.
Performances began, Sat. June 30 and Sun. July 1, at Salem 1630: Pioneer Village in Salem's Forest River Park. A reprisal of the production is planned for September 15 and 16. Tickets can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/256264.
“We’ve all fallen in love with Anne as we’ve put this piece together," says playwright and director Kristina Stevick. “She was so intelligent and industrious, such an example of strength, and yet so human and honest. She’s witty and vulnerable—miles away from the stereotype of Puritan women that somehow still persists today.”
Pioneer Village replicates Salem in the year of Anne Bradstreet’s arrival, so it’s fitting for the premiere to be held in the village. Because Bradstreet’s family was instrumental in founding many communities in Massachusetts, History Alive! would eventually like to share this work of love with others who live in places she helped establish. The play’s simple and multi-purpose set was designed to travel to Andover, Ipswich, Boston, Cambridge and beyond. Money raised from the performances will be used to bring the play to students of American literature and history.
“The plain style of Anne’s poetry is approachable, even while it teaches us about a very different time and perspective," says Stevick. "Students resonate with her. We’re eager to bring this woman we’ve come to admire so much to a broader audience.”
For more information, please contact Kristina Stevick, Artistic Director, History Alive! Gordon College Institute for Public History, 978.867.4518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.