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Return Engagement Announced for THOU SHALT NOT at the Church of Saint John the Evangelist

Thou Shalt Not is a nightmare narrative seen through the perspective Charlotte Mills, a young woman desperate to find her mother's murderer.

Return Engagement Announced for THOU SHALT NOT at the Church of Saint John the Evangelist

 

THINKERY & VERSE announced the return engagement of Thinkery & Verse's THOU SHALT NOT: A Site-Specific Play about the Hall-Mills Double Homicide, directed by Karen Alvarado and recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the crime. THOU SHALT NOT will play a site-specific limited engagement in the Assembly Hall at the Church of Saint John the Evangelist (189 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901) the church most closely associated, 100 years ago. Performances begin Thursday, September 15, and continues through Saturday, October 8. Opening Night is Saturday, September 17 (7:30 p.m.). Tickets are $45+ and are available at https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2186687®id=6&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eventbrite.com%2Forganizations%2Fevents?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1.

In 1922, near the banks of the Raritan River, a small-city priest and a choir singer were slaughtered in the most infamous unsolved double homicide of the 20th century. Incompetent cops, political operatives, and the poorest and most powerful families in New Jersey were all swallowed in the circus that followed. Thinkery & Verse, working with the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, now present THOU SHALT NOT, a nightmare narrative seen through the perspective Charlotte Mills, a young woman desperate to find her mother's murderer.

THOU SHALT NOT is a theatrical exploration of real events. As a guest of the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, the audience will meet Reverend Edward Hall, Mrs. Frances Hall, Eleanor Mills, and all the main players of New Brunswick in 1922. The audience will be guided through a dark and surreal journey of the events leading to and following the vicious murders of "the minister and the choir singer," and the "circus" that surrounded it. THOU SHALT NOT is a re-assessment of history, the complicity of a community, and the sharp exploration of the female voices long since hushed. The staging of this play will be site-specific, peripatetic, and immersive.

For years, the male-dominated vestry did not allow the Church of Saint John the Evangelist to discuss the murders. Now the vestry is mostly women, and so they do not just talk about it, they sponsored this play--Women do not cover up violence against women. Martha Godfrey, who is a member of the vestry at Saint John's reflects on the tragedy, "The Hall-Mills case is something that we've had hanging over our heads for a long time. It used to be, people would get mad at you for talking about it. I think, as a congregation, we need to get out in front of it. The play is a way of doing that." The organist, Dr. Susan Huslage agrees, adding, "Why wouldn't we be allowed to talk about it? It's how the community views us, though it was a long time ago-certainly before any of us were around. But growing up here, we knew the people involved. It's not a good thing to have in your past."

Director Karen Alvarado adds "The church's reputation remains mired in the Hall-Mills double homicide. When my son's godparents heard that we would get our son baptized there, they were shocked that the church was even still open. When we perform in the space, it certainly becomes a 'thin place,' where the past haunts the present. For theater people, it's got Macbeth vibes--only very, very real."

JM Meyer remarks about the current production, "We are using color-conscious casting, so the ethnicity of the cast reflects the ethnic diversity of the congregation in 2022 rather than 1922. The church is no longer a haven for the wealthy, but instead a gathering place for the working-class, and ex-patriots of Sierra Leone. That informs how we cast the play, and how we approach the material. The community never lets us forget how racism, misogyny, class prejudice, and politics created an environment ripe for violence."

The production stars a cast that draws from the Rutgers Mason Gross conservatory. Andrew Banbridge (Rita, the Cleaning Lady) debuts as Willie Stevens, Erin Bogert (That's How the Story Goes: Season 1 and 2, Dinah) returns as Pearl Bahmer, Celine Dirkes (Rita, the Cleaning Lady) slides into the role of Jane Gibson (infamously labeled 'the Pig Lady' by the tabloids), newcomer Gio Guanill as Ralph Gorsline/The Judge/Detective 2, Kaitlin Ormerod Hutson (That's How the Story Goes) reprises Eleanor Mills, Johnny Kavanagh (Thou Shalt not, Last Days of Judas Iscariot) returns as the abusive Raymond Schneider, Madhu Murali debuts (Rita, the Cleaning Lady) as Charlotte Mills, Rebecca Servon (Ghost Hunt) returns as church gossip Minnie Clark, and Lazarus Simmons joins the cast (Ghost Hunt, Dinah) as the doomed Reverend Edward Hall.

The production features music direction and sound design by Sean Ulmer, scenic and costume design by Ashley Basile, and lighting design by Sarah Woods. Jackie Mercer is the Production Manager. Publicity by Katie Rosin/Kampfire PR.

THOU SHALT NOT plays the following regular schedule through Saturday, October 8:

Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.

Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.

 




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