BENNINGTON -- Stephen Pouliot’s "Grandma Moses: An American Primitive" brings the Oldcastle Theatre company’s inaugural season in its new downtown theater to a conclusion.
Oldcastle will present the second production of the play which toured nationally several years ago, Nov. 1 through 17.
"We are delighted to be chosen by Stephen to present his play," Eric Peterson, Oldcastle’s producing artistic director, said. "Oldcastle has always had a special interest in plays that speak directly to our region and this one certainly does. Grandma Moses lived in nearby New York State and still has many relatives in the area. We will be working with the Bennington Museum on some special events as they have a splendid collection of Moses paintings in a special wing of the museum. We are also working with Moses family members, who will attend performances and give us advice and counsel."
The play opens with Anna Mary Moses, a farm wife, living with her husband and children in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia in 1905. Her husband, Thomas, decides the family should return to upstate New York where they will settle in Eagle Bridge. The second act opens on Grandma Moses 100th birthday when she is a celebrated artist with worldwide fame. The play encompasses a remarkable life in which Moses remembers as a four-year-old hearing that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated and nearly 100 years later receives birthday greetings from President John F.
The show features Christine Decker, a native of Cambridge, N.Y., who has been acting with Oldcastle since 1973. This season, Decker appeared in the musical "Northern Boulevard" and directed the company’s production of "The Fox on the Fairway." Decker was a long-time member of the improvisational theatre at Disney World and has acted extensively in Florida, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and around the country.
"It has been a delight to investigate this amazing woman from my backyard," Decker said. "As a native of Cambridge, New York, with a grandfather who was a dairy farmer in Eagle Bridge and a mother who is an artist, I feel I have much in common with Anna Mary Moses. My mother, Joyce Decker, met ‘Grandma’ on several occasions and was struck by her honesty and humility regarding the publicity of her paintings.
"Although her primitive style was not universally appreciated by artists, her personality captivated everyone. My brother and I had the opportunity to view a national touring exhibit of her work several years ago," Decker added. "We both left the museum completely impressed by the beauty of her story."
Peter Langstaff plays several of the men in Grandma Moses’ life, including her brother, her father, her husband, the art lover who discovered her and the gallery owner who made her a cultural phenomenon and a cottage industry. Langstaff appeared in this season’s Oldcastle productions of "Around the World in 80 Days" and "The Fox on the Fairway."
Langstaff’s family also had a connection to Grandma Moses.
"My grandparents on my mother’s side used to own a big farm in Troy, when Troy was little more than a big town, back in the forties and fifties," Langstaff explained. My grandmother, Helen C. Beers, was at this time a well-known painter, particularly in still life. She and Grandma Moses became well-acquainted, and soon became fast friends. They used to paint together."
The play is directed by Peterson with set design by Wm. John Aupperlee and lighting design by Keith Chapman.
For further information: 802-447-1267 or oldcastletheatre.org.