Ancram Center's Summer Play Lab Series Opens With THE LAST DAY OF DOROTHY LILLIAN PHELPS

Author Patricia Van Tassel will lead free community workshop June 13.

By: Jun. 07, 2024
Ancram Center's Summer Play Lab Series Opens With THE LAST DAY OF DOROTHY LILLIAN PHELPS
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Ancram Center for the Arts' Summer Play Lab, now in its fifth year, offers theater artists space, production support, and a budget to develop and present new works. This season's first presentation will be a staged reading of The Last Day of Dorothy Lillian Phelps, a one-woman show by Patricia Van Tassel, on Sunday, June 16 at 4pm. 

In addition, on Thursday, June 13 from 10AM-12PM, Van Tassel will lead a free community workshop employing a variety of art forms to explore the ultimate question posed by her play: What would you say if it was your last day?  To register email

Van Tassel, who grew up in Ancram and attended local schools, said that she started writing the play 10 years ago, and that the character of Mrs. Phelps is based partly on her maternal grandmother.

“We all have this universal thing that happens to us: our last day. I began thinking, what if you knew it was your last day?” said Van Tassel.  “What would you want to say to your loved ones? What would you want to leave with people? The whole theater becomes Miss Phelps's home, and the audience is invited in. And maybe Miss Phelps isn't as ready to depart as she thinks she is.”  

A graduate of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Van Tassel is an independent artist, writer and performer. Her stage credits include off-Broadway tours of Finnegan's Farewell; and performances at the Dramatist's Guild and Treehouse Theater in NYC, as well as numerous regional performances including the one-woman shows Shirley Valentine, The Belle of Amherst, Shame the Devil! and the world premiere of Sandra Asher's Walking Toward America, directed by Amie Brockway. Her family's roots in America go back to the mid-1600s, when the first Van Texel emigrated to Long Island from the Dutch island of Texel. Her mother, Clara Van Tassel, was for many years Ancram's Town Historian.

Tickets may be purchased online at General Admission: $20; student tickets $15 with ID. Patrons can save 25% by purchasing a bundle of all three Summer Play Lab performances. The discount is applied automatically at checkout.

Two more Summer Play Lab performances will be staged at the Ancram Center this summer:

Centuries, a concert collaboration between Matthew Dean Marsh (You Don't Know the Lonely One), Kate Douglas (The Lucky Few), and singer-composer Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez. Centuries is a new musical storytelling experience that follows a family over two generations and explores how landscapes and people change with time. Centuries will have its SPL showing July 7 @ 4pm. 

Conversations. Created and performed by Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby, in collaboration with The Civilians, NYC, this music-theater piece features songs drawn from extensive interviews with Native Americans from across the country. Conversations will have its SPL showing August 4 @ 4pm.

Ancram Center for the Arts is an award-winning theater located in New York's Hudson Valley. Housed in an historic Grange Hall, Ancram Center has since 2016 presented groundbreaking theater and musical performances by nationally recognized theater artists. Ancram Center for the Arts receives significant annual support from the New York State Council on the Arts and in 2023 was awarded a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. For tickets and information visit


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