(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- Thinkery & Verse is presenting Thou Shalt Not in New Brunswick from September 16 - October 8 in Assembly Hall at St. John's. This is a stage-play that reimagines the unsolved Hall-Mills Double Homicide of 1922! Performances start up on the Centennial Anniversary of the tragedy. Photographer John Posada was at a dress rehearsal to take photos.
In 1922, near the banks of the Raritan River, a small city priest and a choir singer were slaughtered in the most infamous unsolved double homicide of the 20th century. Incompetent cops, political operatives, and the poorest and most powerful families in New Jersey were all swallowed in the circus that followed. Thinkery & Verse, working with the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, now presents Thou Shalt Not, a nightmare narrative seen through the perspective Charlotte Mills, a young woman desperate to find her mother's murderer.
Thou Shalt Not is a theatrical exploration of real events. As a guest of the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, the audience will meet Reverend Edward Hall, Mrs. Frances Hall, Eleanor Mills, and all the main players of New Brunswick in 1922. The audience will be guided through a dark and surreal journey of the events leading to and following the vicious murders of "the minister and the choir singer," and the "circus" that surrounded it. Thou Shalt Not is a re-assessment of history, the complicity of a community, and the sharp exploration of the female voices long since hushed. The staging of this play is be site-specific, peripatetic, and immersive.
For years, the male-dominated vestry did not allow the Church of Saint John the Evangelist to discuss the murders. Now the vestry is mostly women, and so they do not just talk about it, they sponsored this play--Women do not cover up violence against women. Martha Godfrey, who is a member of the vestry at Saint John's reflects on the tragedy, “The Hall-Mills case is something that we've had hanging over our heads for a long time. It used to be, people would get mad at you for talking about it. I think, as a congregation, we need to get out in front of it. The play is a way of doing that.” The organist, Dr. Susan Huslage agrees, adding, “Why wouldn't we be allowed to talk about it? It's how the community views us, though it was a long time ago—certainly before any of us were around. But growing up here, we knew the people involved. It's not a good thing to have in your past.”
Tickets are $45 and available for purchase online. Assembly Hall at St. John's is located at 189 George Street in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The cast includes Karen Alvarado*, Andrew Bainbridge, Erin Bogert, Celine Dikes, Frank Dolce*, Gio Gunaill, Johnny Kavanagh, John M. Meyer, Kaitlin Ormerod, Rebecca Servon, Lazarus Simmons, Ania Upstill. * Appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association
The Creative Team includes John M. Meyer (Co-Director), Karen Alvarado (Co-Director), Jackie Mercer (Production Manager), Sarah Woods (Lighting Designer), Ariana Papin (Costume Designer), Sean Ullmer (Music Director), Henry Strehlo (Director of Photography), Erin Bogert (Director of Development), Ashley Basile (Set and Prop Design), Ryan Murphy (Marketing Advisor).
Here are more photos from the production.
Thinkery & Verse seek to perform classically inspired, politically aware plays that challenge us to be empowered, globally-oriented citizens with a keen awareness of the high stakes of modern life. While their primary mission is to create new plays, one of our key creative methods is to perform our plays in repertory with classic works, thereby challenging their writers and actors to achieve new heights of creativity and aesthetics. Thinkery & Verse LLC is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.
John Posada is a New Jersey based photographer specializing in live theatre and music performances. For more than 10 years, John has photographed live music events where he mastered the techniques of timing and capturing fast moving action under challenging lighting conditions to capture that perfect moment that tells a story in a single image. Currently, John has photographed over 110 productions for over 70 different theatres and venues. Click here for John's website.