Local author to preview musical in development

STONINGTON — Opera House Arts has announced a staged community reading and sing-through on Wednesday and Thursday, May 22-23, of a work in development by Penobscot’s Bundy H. Boit. “Hattie,” a play with music in two acts, is based on the life and times of Harriet Jacobs. Just before the start of the Civil War in 1861, Jacobs published “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” the first book to portray the sexualization of women in slavery.

The bicentennial of Jacobs’ birth, 2013 is a doubly auspicious year for the further development of “Hattie” as it is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Born into slavery in North Carolina in 1813, Jacobs escaped from the plantation after years of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of her owner, and having given birth to two children fathered by a white neighbor. She spent almost seven years hiding in a tiny attic crawl space in her grandmother’s house, unable to sit or stand, and eventually becoming permanently physically disabled.

In 1842, Jacobs escaped to New York and found work as a nanny in the household of a prominent abolitionist writer, Nathaniel Parker Willis. She was eventually reunited with her children and later joined the anti-slavery movement, writing her anti-slavery narrative in the sentimental style of the time under the pen name Linda Brent. Its straight-forward handling of the treatment of women in slavery has made “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” one of the most acclaimed slave narratives of all time.

“Hattie” will be directed by Opera House Arts’ Artistic Director Judith Jerome, with musical direction by Win Pusey, and feature 11 community members in 15 individual roles, plus chorus. Amy Kaiser of Deer Isle will be featured as Hattie. The cast also includes Marnie Crowell, Rich Howe, Dana Douglass, Heather Wren, Brad Pusey, Dee Miller, Doug Drown, Marvin Merritt and Sue Bolton.

Tickets are available at the door the night of the shows. Tickets for adults are $8 and Island students are admitted for free.

For further information, call 207-367-2788 or visit www.operahousearts.org.

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