Each production was either conceived or developed at an artist's retreat in Weston. Audiences see the plays produced for the first time in complete form, and the playwrights, composers, directors and actors are able to see what works and what doesn't work without the pressures of a formal opening night. Reviewers have been asked not to comment on the works themselves as they gestate, albeit publicly.
Last Thursday, I attended the very first full performance of 'This Blessed Plot,' by playwrights Robert Westfield and Marc Wolf. Directed by Joanna Settle, the play was performed in its entirety by Marc Wolf wearing his actor's hat. Wolf was a wonder, alternatively portraying himself as legendary urban planner Robert Moses and theatrical producer Joseph Papp in relating how the battle in the late 1950s to establish free performances of Shakespeare in Central Park in New York City was fought and won. For good measure, Wolf also threw in the Moses from the Bible, irreverently referred to in the piece as "Moses, Moses.
The title to the play, performed in five acts in just under 90 minutes, is taken from a line in Shakespeare's 'Richard II' in which an advisor to the soon-to-be-deposed monarch refers to "this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England." The patch of ground in Central Park over which Robert Moses and Joseph Papp crossed swords was precious to both, and Papp's notion that the Bard's work should be performed at a city location without charge was anathema to Moses, who at that juncture had outlasted several mayors and councilmen.
Robert Moses, imperial in manner, dictated memorandums from his luxury sedan. Papp, working on a shoestring budget, was fomenting his own brand of revolution in bringing Shakespeare to the people. 'This Blessed Plot' demonstrates how part of today's cultural fabric of New York City almost wasn't.
Weston Playhouse Theatre Company invites theatregoers to help nurture this new, fascinating play. Performances of 'This Blessed Plot' continue at the air-conditioned Weston Rod and Gun Club through Sept. 1. For tickets, call the box office at 802-824-5288 or visit online at www.westonplayhouse.org.