In the Wings
T he Newsletter of The Concord Players
July 2020         Amanda Casale, Editor 
My Fellow Players,

We have been debating over the last several months as to how best serve you during this very difficult time. In our last Board of Directors meeting we did make a final decision to postpone the anticipated 2020-21 season when we were planning to present Sense and Sensibility directed by Michelle Aguillon, Harvey directed by Mark Baumhardt, and Titanic: the Musical directed by Doug Hodge. Our plan is to reopen the Players' primary season in the spring of 2021 with Steel Magnolias, directed by Paul Murphy, and bring you the aforementioned slate starting in the fall of 2021. We are still making plans to proceed with a live production of As You Like It, directed by Nick Meunier, which will occur outdoors in September. Should circumstances allow, we will also look to bring you some smaller theater productions toward the end of the year. Additionally, we are coming up with additional programming beyond what's available through our website that you will be able to enjoy at your convenience, just by clicking a link.

We are all very eager to come back to 51 Walden and perform live in song, dance, and drama and continue our long tradition of providing the best in community theater to you and the surrounding area. In the meantime, please enjoy this brief reminder and we'll see you at the theater!

--Jay Newlon, President
Like so many performing arts centers, 51 Walden was forced to cancel or postpone most of its spring calendar due to the Covid-19 quarantine.  As a modest consolation for performers, supporters, and devotees of this great local gathering place, we've put together this short video playlist.  It includes both highlights of previous 51 Walden events and other performers' renditions of works originally scheduled to appear at 51 Walden this past spring.  Click here to view - choose the entire list or play segment by segment.

And what's more, for the remainder of quarantine, we will be featuring Concord Players members performing songs/scenes of their choice from the safety of their home.  This month's feature is Connie Benn, treasurer of the Concord Players!

Connie Benn 
The Concord Players welcome three of our favorite quarantined fairytale princesses to share one of their favorite medleys with you and your families!

We are pleased to announce our new board of directors for the Concord Players, who will take office beginning July 1st.

Officers Serving a 1-Year Term:
Jay Newlon President
Tom Sullivan Vice President
Andrea Roessler Vice President
Kathy Lague Treasurer
Amanda Casale Secretary

Board Members Serving a 2-Year Term:
Kathleen O'Connor Special Events
Nadine Sa PDSC Chair
Paul Murphy EMACT Rep

Continuing Members Serving a 2-Year Term:
Charlie Atherton 51 Walden Rep
Craig Howard PDSC
Nick Miller Member-at-Large
Susan Tucker Member-at-Large
Corinne Kinsman Membership
Tracy Wall Member-at-Large
Interested in local Revolutionary War history? Watch actor Johnny Kinsman's new video, " Bunker Hill: Forcing the Fight for Freedom". Kinsman, who grew up in Concord, is an actor, director, producer, writer, and storyteller. His professional career was launched with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater from Syracuse University, where he received the Arthur Storch Award for Excellence in Classical Acting. Kinsman is currently associate artistic director for Anthem Theater in Boston, where his work includes both Dromios in A Comedy of Errors, Fezziwig in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Coach "Friar" Lawrence in Romeo vs. Juliet, which he also penned; Flynn in The Merry Way; and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night of the Living Dead.
The Town of Concord, taking guidance from the CDC and Town Health Departments is making plans to reopen the Visitor Center as soon as it is safe to do so. New procedures will be in place to provide for the safest environment for both staff and patrons. We are actively promoting all the fun outdoor activities there are in Concord. It is essential to our mental and physical health to be outdoors and there are lots of ways to be socially distant while doing so. All our trails and parks are now open to the public and everyone is encouraged to take advantage and spread out. We have launched a virtual Concord to Concord challenge found here - it's a great way to be outdoors and earn a prize too!

The new Visit Concord website went live in April and has many exciting ideas for what to do while visiting.  We have lots of data indicating that local tourists will be the first to return and we are eager to welcome them back!

A continued BIG SHOUT-OUT to Carol Antos and Mike Lague for providing you, our avid audience, more ways of enjoying remote theatre.

"If I can't even remember what day of the week it is, how can I possibly remember which play/musical/opera/concert is available for free online tonight?"

Good news - you'll find the answer on The Concord Players website!  We've developed a one-stop guide organized for your viewing pleasure, featuring offerings from the West End, Lincoln Center, Broadway, Boston theatres, and more!  Just click on our logo and enjoy.

"If every auditorium were razed to the ground, theatre would still survive, because the hunger in each of us to act and be acted to, is genetic.  This intense hunger even crosses the threshold of sleep.  For we direct, perform, and witness performances every night - theatre cannot die before the last dream has been dreamt."
--Declan Deonnellan
In 1919, Concordians were settling into the post-war life in their community. Several young couples sought to build local friendships through an adult hobby - theater. Living in a cultural moment when the "Little Theatre Movement" was gaining momentum may have contributed to their interest. Being in a town with a strong literary tradition may have provided their backdrop. But of all the influences that led to the foundational success of this 1919 restart, credit must go to Samuel E. Merwin, author, playwright, intellectual, and relative newcomer (1916) to Concord. Merwin, whose knowledge of theater and enthusiasm for the cultural possibilities of amateur play production, became a driving force and lasting influence for the Concord Players. 

We start in the living room of one of the members of the near-defunct Concord Dramatic Club. Sam Merwin is in the center. Surrounding Merwin are the Millers, both of whom will assume leading roles in the organization for decades - Hans as Director, Actor, Set Builder and President, and Marian as Secretary, Costumer, President and Archivist. They are joined by ten others, professionals by day - an architect, banker, broker, bursar, professor, etc. - and their wives. Excitement is in the air. They have just agreed to assume the debts of the waning Concord Dramatic Union and launch The Concord Players, not as a Club but as "an independent, self-sufficient organization whose object is to stimulate interest in dramatic work in the town and to elevate the standard of performance." Part of their policy was to "experiment as widely as the exigencies of casting permit in the development of fresh talent within a community." 

The Players mounted their first production, three one-act plays, for townspeople on November 28, 1919 and never looked back. They started small, performing in Concord's Monument Hall, and traveling to Belmont, Cambridge and West Newton. They made due with what they acquired from the Club: scenery, drops and a few costumes, which they stored in George Prescott's barn. After working in small spaces and lugging tattered materials around for two years, the Players worked with the town of Concord to establish a permanent space in the Veteran's building, a former drill shed. They split the costs of acquiring land and constructed a proscenium arch and stage (raising $4,100 from benefactors and members) at the back of the building. Clarence Blackhall, (Marian Miller's father), architect for more than 50 theaters, designed the stage, a small replica of his design for Boston's Colonial Theater. At last, the Concord Players had a home stage! They christened it with Believe Me, Xantippe in November 1922.

In 1927, the Players purchased land behind the building for $2,900 and with the help of members Hans Miller, Harold Orendorff, and Henry Little, also a famous architect (and designer of the CP logo we use today), they built the Scene Dock. CP, its assets and its resources were growing. 

Under Merwin, the Players honed their craft and had a ton of fun, especially during Huddles, Gambols, and Frolics! And they were daring. In 1923 they travelled to NYC with Clarence, featuring William Tilden, the tennis champion, in the title role. Tickets were sold at the Algonquin Hotel and famous actors - Helen Hayes and Garson Kanin - came backstage to congratulate the cast. Robert E. Sherwood (editor, author, playwright) gushed with praise. Other dares: The Countess Cathleen (1924), a poetical tragedy written by William Butler Yeats required Irish accents and 79 volunteers behind the scenes. And, for The Merchant of Venice (1925), they adhered to "honest theater" by hewing close to Shakespeare's intent for a balanced, fantastic comedy rather than one where Shylock, the buffoon, steals the show. These first formative years set the stage for the Players' organization as we know it today.
We want to hear your story.  What has this time been like for you?  Please share your experience with us as we source material for a new piece of theater by our community and for our community.  You are free to keep your submission anonymous.  Please email
Membership renewal letters will be going into the mail during July.  Members may renew via this letter or online .

In compliance with Governor Baker's order on May 18th, 51 Walden remains closed; all events of the residence groups through July have been cancelled or postponed.  Please check our Events page for current information.

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