The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 11, 2005


Carlisle's Bicentennial celebration kicks off
with original play:Under the Chestnut Tree: A Chronicle of Carlisle, Massachusetts

In 1650, a man named Goodman Adams brought his bride to settle in a region that would one day bear the name of his birthplace, Carlisle, Scotland (which would later be conquered and claimed by England). The pedigreed Priscilla Ramsden Adams could trace her background back to the Mayflower and may have been less than enthusiastic about this isolated wilderness. But she and her husband stayed and made a life here, along with two other families of early settlers: the Healds and the Bloods.

Couples representing Carlisle's three foremost founding families take the stage at play rehearsal. From left to right, the Bloods (Adam Winegarden and Debra Lustiber), the Adamses (Liz Bishop and Myron Feld) and the Healds (Emily Fritz-Endres and Charles Schweppe.) The show opens Friday, February 18. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)

Other families followed. So what was life like for these early settlers, the ones who lived here when Carlisle was still comprised of pieces of Acton, Billerica, Chelmsford and Concord, and before it claimed its own identity in February of 1805?

To celebrate the 200th birthday of our town, resident Anne Marie Brako has written an original play dramatizing the lives of these early residents, called Under the Chestnut Tree: A Chronicle of Carlisle, Massachusetts, performed with the assistance of the Town Cow Theater Company of Concord. Opening night, planned to coincide with Carlisle's 200th birthday on Friday, February 18, will feature several celebratory touches, including live music. Three more performances will be held on Saturday and Sunday, the 19th and 20th. The play will kick off a year of Bicentennial celebrations, culminating with a dinner dance later this year.

Under the Chestnut Tree is an idea born about a year and a half ago, when Brako answered an ad run by Carlisle Selectmen inviting residents to serve on the Carlisle Bicentennial Committee. In addition to serving as committee chair, Brako decided to combine her interests in history, writing and theater (the latter sparked by her son Alexander's favorite hobby) and write a play about the early days of Carlisle. Before she knew it, she says she was "sucked in by the research," spending many hours in the Carlisle, Acton, Billerica, Chelmsford and Concord libraries, over a period of about four months.

"I loved it. You can really lose yourself [in research]," says Brako. Not that it's always been easy. Different sources "have conflicting information. Materials get lost. There are a lot of facts available, but also a lot of rumors."

When considering writing a historical play, Brako approached Thomas Caron, manager of the Town Cow Theater Company in Concord and asked if he would edit the play and direct it. "It's nice to get involved with the community. That's important to me," says Caron. "It should be a lot of fun."

The cast of Under the Chestnut Tree is comprised of about 14 people, half of whom are Carlisle residents (including Liz Bishop, Charles Schweppe and Emily Fritz-Endres). There will be a special appearance by all 14 members of the Carlisle Minutemen, led by Scott Evans, and Brako promises that there will be surprise guests as well. "You may be surprised to see some of your neighbors on stage," she says.

Under the Chestnut Tree: A Chronicle of Carlisle, Massachusetts will be performed at Corey Auditorium next weekend. Opening night, Friday, February 18 will feature some special "Happy Birthday, Carlisle" touches and live music provided by the Carlisle School Senior Band and chorus. Tickets for this celebration are $25 each.

On Saturday, February 19, there will be a 2 p.m. matinee (adults $15, seniors $10, children $5) and a 7 p.m. performance (all tickets $15). On Sunday, February 20, there will be a 2 p.m. matinee (adults $15, seniors $10, children $5). Tickets are available at Ferns or at the door. (Checks should be made out to the Carlisle Historical Society).

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito