Created by Matthew Cumbie, Tom Truss & team

ReWritten fashions a portal to the past, opens a window to step out of straight time and feel queerness and queerly. We are putting the past in play, using it as a resource for speculative inhabitation, animating a past affective world. The mid-nineteenth century was a moment before sexual desires and sexual practices translated into social identity, before modern taxonomies organized by the categories of straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual. Such attraction and sex between people of the same gender did of course occur; the task for us, in our own historical moment, is to be able to see past our own assumptions about what constitutes desire and intimacy, to be able to glimpse in the mid-nineteenth-century archive feelings that may have been experienced and expressed in terms we no longer recognize.

We began working on this production two years ago, and today’s performance marks one of many chapters of ReWritten. Our entry into this material started with the letters from Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne and quickly evolved into a series of questions. Because of gaps in the archive–while we have letters from Melville to Hawthorne, Hawthorne’s to Melville were lost or destroyed–there is much we do not know and may never know about the time the two men spent together from August 1850 to November of 1851. Our questioning has brought us into collaboration with artists, scholars, and community members from Texas to Toronto (and beyond), including several in western Massachusetts, where Hawthorne and Melville first met. In an earlier chapter of ReWritten, we partnered closely with the Berkshire Pulse and the Berkshire County Historical Society to explore the grounds of Herman Melville’s historic home Arrowhead through movement, music, text, and video. As we deepen and expand on these chapters, we are excited about what we might learn together through tonight’s performance. 

Katherine Stubbs & the Creative Team


Work-in-Progress Showing
Friday, April 22 at 6:30 PM
Strider Theater

Reception to follow in Runnals Lobby


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Co-sponsored by the Department of Performance, Theater, and Dance, the Department of English, and the Center for the Arts and Humanities
With support from the Cultural Events Committee