Performance- The Chains of Liberty

Friday, October 24, 2014 - 4:00pm

Antiquarian Hall, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA

Performance of The Chains of Liberty
By James David Moran

Chains of LibertyThe Chains of Liberty depicts the popular uprising that swelled throughout Worcester County in the summer of 1774 and ended all British Authority in rural Massachusetts. This play features four principal characters: Timothy Bigelow, a blacksmith and leader of the Whig resistance to British Authority. Bigelow is instrumental in forming the American Political Society, a secret organization that seeks to control town meetings and coordinates the efforts to resist the actions of both the local Tories and the British Parliament. Bigelow will eventually become a war hero fighting throughout the entire Revolution. Bigelow’s antagonist is, Timothy Paine, a wealthy loyalist. In the course of the play we watch Paine be publicly humiliated and forced to resign his positions as mandamus councilor and then as judge of the Worcester Court of Common Pleas. Yet after the war, as Bigelow dies in debtor’s prison, Paine has regained his economic and social prestige even serving as a state representative.

The Chains of Liberty also features a teenage Winslow Worcester, Timothy Paine’s black slave. Winslow seeks to determine his own place in the world and fights for his own liberty amidst so many free white men claiming to be enslaved by Parliament. And finally, The Chains of Liberty depicts Mary Stearns, a widower who runs the Kings Arms Tavern where many of the meetings of both Loyalists and Whigs take place. She is an elderly widow with no legal or political standing. The play is very interactive with the audience participating in the political meetings of the time.

Moran researched the play in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. “Much of the play utilizes historic documents with both actors and the audience reading from the newspapers, broadsides and official transcripts of public meetings. I wanted to incorporate as much of this eighteenth century language as I could but I also wanted to convey how the “public prints” – the newspapers and broadsides were circulated and consumed by people living at the time,” said Moran.

This is the fourteenth play Moran has written. Most of Moran’s works have been commissioned and are based on historical themes. Additionally, he has created a wide variety of video, audio, and theatrical presentations for corporations, cultural institutions, and individuals. His plays, Beating the Demon, about the nineteenth century temperance orator John B. Gough, and Isaiah Thomas-Patriot Printer, about the founder of the American Antiquarian Society, are currently touring to schools and civic organizations throughout New England. He also developed an innovative radio program entitled The History Show, which appeared on 151 public radio stations in 47 states. Moran is director of outreach at the American Antiquarian Society, where he is in charge of the Society’s public programs, programs for K-12 students and teachers, and coordinates a fellowship program for creative and performing artists and writers.

The Chains of Liberty was commissioned by the Worcester Revolution of 1774 Project and was funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was first performed on September 7, 2014 as part of a daylong celebration on Worcester’s role in beginning the American Revolution. During that day the play was performed twice to full houses and given a standing ovation. The play will be directed by JT Turner and features a professional cast of actors including: James Turner, Marci Diamond, Michael Barry and Trinidad Ramkissoon. It is produced under a guest artist agreement with Actors’ Equity Association.

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