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Franklin Stage Company Presents Staged Readings of New Play by Kyle Bass

The final component of the grant is a public offering such as a staged reading, which FSC will present in late September and early October.

The Franklin Stage Company, Delaware County's renowned professional summer theater, will present 2 staged readings of a new play by Kyle Bass entitled Toliver and Wakeman.

Earlier in 2022, FSC was awarded a Support for Artists Grant for the commission of the play written by the author of Possessing Harriet, which FSC produced during their 2019 summer season. The readings will be directed by Ithaca-based theater artist Adara Alston.

"It's wonderful to be part of the development process of this new play," said Co-Artistic Director Leslie Noble, "Possessing Harriet was one of our audience's favorite shows, and we're very excited about Kyle's new piece, an exploration of local and historical facts and imaginings." The commission was funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). The final component of the grant is a public offering such as a staged reading, which FSC will present in late September and early October.

Set at the start of the American Civil War, Toliver and Wakemen theatricalizes the Civil War experiences of two actual historical characters from two very different (and not so different) backgrounds who both lived in Delaware County. Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, a young white woman born in Bainbridge, New York, disguised herself as a man and mustered into the Union Army-the 153rd New York State Volunteers-using the alias Lyons Wakeman. Toliver Holmes was a young black man born into slavery in Virginia who escaped to New York, changed his name to avoid capture, and mustered into the Union Army's 26th Regiment of Colored Troops (NY), later settliing in Delhi, NY.

"In reality their life paths did not intersect. But in my play, poetic license in service to a poetical dramaturgy will bring them into each other's lives-the imagined jazz of shared experience," said Bass. "Theirs will be a shared narrative drama and a drama of identity." The play is an exploration of what two very different characters have in common, as each has escaped something they find untenable and each has cloaked their true identity before joining the Union Army; and each is looking to define freedom on their own terms.

The readings will take place on Friday, September 30 at 7 pm and Sunday, October 2 at 3 pm. Both presentations will include an audience talkback following the reading. For more information or to reserve seats, visit www.franklinstagecompany.org or call 607-829-3700.

Programming at the Franklin Stage Company is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

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