Professor Scott Winfield Sublett’s new play “The Repeating Arms of Sarah Winchester” will be the subject of a staged reading for one night only on Monday, December 4, in the Hammer Theatre Center’s new “black box” space: the Hammer 4.
The play explores Sarah Winchester’s exposure to the new and progressive religion of Spiritualism while she is still a young widow residing in New Haven, Connecticut. The reading will be produced by the Dept. of Film and Theatre in partnership with The San Jose Stage Company, directed by Kirsten Brandt, and produced by Barnaby Dallas, with set designs under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Bechert.
“At this point in her life, Mrs. Winchester is a rational, well-read, progressive suffragette, searching, like many Americans were in the late 1800s, for a new religion to replace the harsh Calvinism of her youth. This is not the fictional, kooky Sarah of the tourist attraction house,” Sublett said.\
Meanwhile, Prof. Sublett’s new musical, “Charleston Harbor,” will be given a staged reading by Manhattan’s legendary Amas Musical Theatre on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Amas is noted for having invented “non-tradition casting” before the term was coined.
The play is about Robert Smalls, a slave who became the greatest black hero of the Civil War.
The great 19th century intellectual Frederick Douglass accompanied Captain Smalls to a meeting with President Lincoln, who was so impressed with Smalls’s military exploits that he was persuaded to allow blacks to enlist in the Union Army.
“Smalls was forgotten by history, lost, which shocked and disheartened me,” Sublett said. “It’s my hope that the play revives interest in Smalls by other artists, by scholars, and particularly by historians. He deserves a higher place in history than he has been given.”
Subtitled “A True Civil War Adventure with Historical Music,” the new play integrates authentic spirituals of 1800s into the dramatic action.
Christopher Scott will direct for Amas.