New play about poet Whittier to be performed in Haverhill, Amesbury    

COURTESY PHOTOPlaywright Michael Cormier

Playwright Michael Cormier examines the power of words in “The Abolitionist’s Refrain” — a new play about poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier to be performed at the Whittier Home in Amesbury and the Whittier Birthplace in Haverhill.

Punctuate4 Productions, in cooperation with the Whittier Home and Museum and the Whittier Birthplace, will debut two scenes from the new work on Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13 — both at 3 p.m.

“What better places to introduce this new play through dramatized readings than at The Whittier Home Museum and Whittier Birthplace?" said Myriam Cyr, artistic director for Punctuate4 Productions. "These are two local treasures that preserve Whittier’s legacy and enrich the region through educational and cultural activities that foster a love of poetry.” 

Cormier, a Haverhill native known as the co-author of “Saltonstall’s Trial,” has always had love of the rich history of his hometown and the region.

“As a historical figure, Whittier was always of particular interest, not only because I grew up in Haverhill, but because I'm descended from the Greenleafs,” Cormier said. “Like most people, I enjoyed his pastoral poetry long before I became aware of his involvement in the abolitionist movement. Writing this play has given me the opportunity to learn more about the important role he played on the local and national stages, and how relevant the issues he grappled with remain today.”

“The past year has brought many challenges to us all,” Cyr said.

Cyr said the mission of Punctuate4, a non-profit group, "is to create a place where theater, conversations and ideas come together to tell stories that matter.''

"'The Abolitionist’s Refrain' takes place as the Civil War ends,'' Cyr said. "Whittier, who worked tirelessly for emancipation for decades, must now confront his own future and the future of a nation divided.”

Phil Thompson of Ipswich will play the role of Whittier. Dan Bruns of Boxford will portray William Lloyd Garrison. Corey Roberts of Hopedale plays returning Union soldier Lester Williams and Marissa Mason of Beverly portrays Whittier’s niece Elizabeth.

Through the support of the Amesbury and Haverhill Cultural Councils, the programs are free and open to the public. The events will be held outdoors. There are no rain dates. Reservations are required and there is limited attendance. 

To register for the Saturday, June 12, performance at the Whittier Home, 86 Friend St., Amesbury, go to:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-abolitionists-refrain-tickets-152923840323.

To register for the Sunday, June 13, performance at the Whittier Birthplace, 305 Whittier Road, Haverhill, go to:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-abolitionists-refrain-tickets-152913118253.

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