Posted in Uncategorized, tagged after magritte, amy, beth, concord, concord passion play, concord players, drama, jo, jon chase, kate clarke, literature, little women, louisa may alcott, marmee, meg, nancy shohet west, orchard house, pat kane, photograph, play, production, stoppard, theater on March 8, 2012 |
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Twenty years ago I helped out on what local people jokingly refer to as the Concord Passion Play: Little Women. It’s performed every 10 years by the Concord Players because (a) author Louisa May Alcott lived at Orchard House in Concord and (b) she was a founder of the theater group that became the Concord Players.
Kate Clarke is directing the show this year, and she just got some great publicity in the Boston Globe.
“ ‘Preparing to direct the play, I started to do some research and was fascinated to discover just how meaningful the book is to so many people,’ Clarke said.
“ ‘Even the rock star Patti Smith wrote in her recent memoir that “Little Women” was what made her feel as a young high school student that she could be an artist. It motivated her to go to New York and become a performer. I started thinking, “Good Lord, Jo March is everywhere! Why do people find her so compelling?”
“ ‘That’s the question I’ve been tackling with this group of actors. Yes, it’s about the Civil War era, and the societal restrictions that females were under at that time. But the fact that the book’s popularity has endured reflects what compelling characters these young women were.
“ ‘This story is so uniquely Concord and yet reaches far beyond the boundaries of Concord, just as it is a story about the 1860s that also brings up a lot of contemporary issues,’ Clarke said.” Read more.
Here’s photo by Jon Chase for the Boston Globe. Pat Kane, an incredible costume designer, is in the middle. (I don’t think she remembers, but the first time she worked for the Concord Players was when I sought her help on a one-act I directed, Stoppard’s After Magritte.)
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Even people who think they know all about Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott and other Concord worthies often seem not to know Margaret Fuller. She was a key member of the “genius cluster” that author Susan Cheever has called the “American Bloomsbury.”
Although Fuller has passed from public awareness, in Concord it is different. Which is why a reading at the Concord Bookshop on January 29 was standing room only. Fuller’s latest biographer, John Matteson, was there to read about her “many lives” and engage in discussion about such abstruse topics as what Fuller thought of Emerson’s second wife. (Answer: Not much.)
It’s always amusing to attend a reading of a book about one of the Concord greats, as participants have such passionate feelings. Especially the Bronson Alcott fan base, who cannot bear to hear a word said against Louisa May
Alcott’s innovative but impractical father. I have been to a couple readings of books in which Louisa appears, and you can see Bronson’s partisans stiffening their spines, baring their fangs, and rising to the bait.
But who was Margaret Fuller? She was a first in many realms, including first female editor of the highly regarded 19th century literary magazine The Dial and the first overseas war correspondent. Matteson bemoaned the fact that she was probably best known, however, for the way she died, having perished in 1850 at age 40 in a shipwreck off Point o’ Woods, Fire Island.
That fact touches a nerve in me, I admit, since I spent all my childhood summers on Fire Island, and it is still a mystery why many of the ship’s passengers were saved while Margaret Fuller, her husband, and her baby drowned. Fortunately, interest in her life has been renewed, with Matteson’s book only one of several in which she plays a significant role.
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