By rebeccapricejanney, Aug 16 2017 04:14PM
In light of my August vacation days, I’ve asked my good friend Christopher Black to be my guest blogger for the next two weeks. Christopher is the artistic director of the Bachmann Players, who do colonial dinner theater at Easton, Pennsylvania’s 1753 Bachmann Publick House. Scott and I went to see a production in June and were quite impressed with the engaging interactions of the players with their audience, not to mention the delicious meal we enjoyed.
This week, Christopher is going to share the story of how the Bachmann Players came to be. Next week he’ll introduce us to the actors and actresses in his troupe. Take it away—
The Bachmann Players by Christopher Black
I was attracted to the theater in my youth and followed the lights to the big city, etc. I was fortunate enough to have a small degree of success, and lucky enough to be able to be a professional actor in a classical repertory company for about ten years. It is worth noting that I was able to do a fair amount of Shakespeare and plays of the Greeks because these are the texts and types of language that would have been familiar to literate folks of the 1700’s.
Eventually, one aspect of the actor’s life began to wear on me—no money, no relationships—
and as my theater company began to falter artistically under new leadership, I took the opportunity to change my life. I managed to meet a wonderful woman, left the theater, bought a house, and moved to Pennsylvania.
Life slowed down a bit, and I was able to indulge my love of history, do more research, read more classics. Eventually, however, my back ground caught up with me when I was asked to do a presentation of an “Evening with John Adams” at the Bachmann Tavern for The Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society. About the same time, I was invited to read the Declaration of Independence for Easton’s Heritage Day.
I made a startling and delightful discovery -- the letters and documents of the 1700’s seemed to make perfect sense to me. It was probably my exposure to the classics, but I suddenly found an avalanche of original source material I had never paid attention to. I saw an opportunity to indulge and put to work all the creative studies of my entire life into one project.
As someone who enjoys research and pouring over original materials, I would delve into historical topics related to Easton and the beginnings of this country. As a budding playwright, I could mold these original documents and put words in the mouths of people like Benjamin Franklin, William Parsons, and John Adams. By being aware of a larger historical context, it would be possible to honor their beliefs and intents. It would be possible, I determined, to make an audience feel like they had really met these people. In addition, the project would allow me to both act and direct, two things I love.
I would also work with others in the community who I would cast, write for, and teach. This would pay back the world for the opportunities I have had to work with world class teachers and artists during my studies and career. I even built a website using skills from my “Day Job” in a New York Photo Agency.
We do a few productions a year at the Bachmann, and recently have taken some of the presentations to some outside venues as well. My goal to have ten plays “in the can” so to speak. So far I have written and produced three:
Easton: 1752 Founding of a Frontier Village
Easton 1755: The Frontier in Crisis
Easton 1777: An Evening with John Adams
I am currently working on a piece that will involve George Taylor, Robert Levers, and other Easton founding fathers as the Northampton Committee of Safety and Observation struggles to provide leadership when the Revolutionary War unfolded. That will be titled “Easton 1775: The Edge of Revolution.” I hope to have it ready to be performed in the spring of 2018 at the Bachmann Tavern, and perhaps that fall at the George Taylor Mansion in Catasauqua.
Next week: Meet the Bachmann Players