Herman Melville

Herman Melville

Sailing Towards my Father

written and directed by Carl A. Rossi

Sailing Towards My Father is a one-man play about Herman Melville (1819-1891), the American author best known for his whaling epic Moby-Dick; The play chronicles Melville’s life from youth to old age, concentrating on his evolution as a writer and his complex relations with God, his parents and siblings, his wife and children, and Nathanial Hawthorne.

 

For more information or

to book a performance:

CONTACT STEPHEN COLLINS

978-853-0710 or walt978@aol.com

Or use this form

4 + 13 =

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Unlaunch’d Voices

an Evening With Walt Whitman

by Michael Z. Keamy

Since the late 1990’s, Stephen’s performances have captured the attention of the press. It is not just the stunning resemblance to Walt Whitman himself, which many of the reviews notice, but the portrayal of the character and the essence that he brings within arm’s reach to the audience that makes the poet come to life. It is not surprising that in some reviews, the writer switches Collins’ name and Whitman’s interchangeably. A true compliment to a performance well appreciated.

The Play

Unlaunch’d Voices, an Evening With Walt Whitman opens with the elderly Whitman on the evening of his seventieth birthday. The audience is a visitor in his room as he prepares for his birthday celebration. Whitman begins to reminisce and to question his success as a man and a poet. He tells us his work has proved to be “less than a failure….” He remembers a mystical experience he had in his thirty-seventh year that inspired him to write poetry.

During the telling, Whitman transforms into his young vibrant self and we begin to trace back along with him the experiences that led to the creation of Leaves Of Grass, his lifetime work. The first part of the performance explores Whitman’s preoccupation with the self and his resolve to write with “free and brave thought…” We revel with him as he celebrates his body and himself and are confidants as he shares his struggle with his sexual self.

In the second part of the performance, Whitman’s life is changed forever by the occurrence of the Civil War. It is here that he finds “… the most important work of my life…” nursing the wounded soldiers in the hospitals. Through poetry and readings of actual letters, we experience Whitman’s movement from selfishness and selflessness and his growth into a mature artist who is at peace about “himself, God and death.”

The History

Unlaunch’d Voices, an Evening With Walt Whitman, was conceived and performed by Stephen Collins, written and directed by Michael Keamy. The first performances were presented in January 1998 at the Hancock Church in Lexington, MA. Since then private performances have been booked at both High Schools and Colleges as well as Assisted Living Communities throughout Massachusetts.

Unlaunch’d Voices strives to capture what we interpret to be the most vital contributions of the man. This generation will never know precisely how Whitman walked, talked, thought, or the many subtle ways he expressed himself and lived. To avoid any misrepresentation, we chose to keep any broad historical fiction or needless theatrical conventions out of this play.

Instead, we rely on poetry, which surely stands on its own, and on as much of Walt’s actual words and dialogue as possible. A portion of the text was gathered from the priceless source, Walt Whitman In Camden, a six-volume collection of daily conversations with Whitman, written by his friend and neighbor, Horace Traubel.

These books contain records of daily visits with Whitman over a period of five years leading up to the poet’s death. The volumes are filled with anecdotes, stories, and memories, as well as important historical data. Whitman’s own prose works, including Specimen Days, were also a valuable source.

Of what value is Walt Whitman to us in contemporary America? This is a question we asked repeatedly during the creation of this piece. Certainly, it is in Whitman’s inestimable contribution to the modem form of poetry and in his creation of free verse. But more, his worth lies in his humanity, his determination to retain his individuality, his struggle with his sexual self, his joyfully inclusive view of life and his refreshing embrace or death.

Finally, we hope to leave you with a greater insight not just into the great man or the great poet, but with an appreciation of Walt Whitman as an eternally free spirit.

by Stephen Collins
Michael Keamy

Reviews

Directing, acting, and all of the technical aspects must come together successfully to create a satisfactory whole and here they do. Thanks to Keamy’s sympathetic direction and Collins’ strongly created and engaging persona, the audience comes away from the one and one-half hour play interested in and affectionately disposed to Walt Whitman. Anyone interested in knowing more about this great figure from America’s past should enjoy an evening with “Unlaunch’d Voices…”

Laura Lewis – The Brattleboro Reformer

A serenely acted one-man show “Unlaunch’d Voices” starring Shakespearean actor Stephen Collins hosted by the indefatigable producer Wendy Bidstrup proved a meticulously mounted showcase.

George W. Hayden – The Observer

By the end of the play, the audience comes away feeling as if they know Whitman, feeling as if they have just had a conversation with the poet.

Rebecca Lamet – York County Coast Star

From the moment “Walt” appeared, Collins had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Pat Elliot

Chair, Department of English and Writing, Regis College

 

For more information or

to book a performance:

CONTACT STEPHEN COLLINS

978-853-0710 or walt978@aol.com

Or use this form

13 + 4 =

An Evening of Frost

An Evening of Frost

An Evening of Poems by Robert Frost

Open discussion following

An Evening of Frost is a unique, interactive performance that begins with a short biographical introduction into the poet’s life. Robert Frost is greatly misunderstood. Certain people, some academics, and politicians included have tried to pigeonhole him, however, the man is far more complicated than the surface indicates. This is, after all, a man who voted for Eugene Debs, one of the best known Socialists of the United States, but was vehemently opposed to Franklin Roosevelt and “The New Deal”. It is this man that is seen in his poems that are often dialectic between chaos and order.

As part of the performance, an open discussion of the following poems will include:

“A Tuft of Flowers”
“Mending Wall”
“Birches”
“After Apple Picking”
“Acquainted with the Night”
“Desert Places”

Stephen is hoping that people will come having read these poems, willing to discuss them.

The performance closes with a dramatic reading of Frost’s masterful use of blank verse in the hauntingly memorable

“The Death of the Hired Man”

 

 

For more information or

to book a performance:

CONTACT STEPHEN COLLINS

978-853-0710 or walt978@aol.com

Or use this form

15 + 15 =

James McNeil Whistler

James McNeil Whistler

Butterfly – Life of artist James McNeill Whistler

“Butterfly”, is a one-man show about the life and times of New England native, James McNeill Whistler, the Volatile American artist who struggled for personal freedom and artistic expression mostly in Victorian England. He was a leading proponent of the credo, “art for art’s sake”. The play depicts Whistler at two phases of his life – first, as a bankrupt artist on commission in Venice in his forties, and then the established yet lonely legend in his sixties in London.

The title of the play is drawn from the artist’s signature on his paintings which was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger for a tail. The symbol combined two aspects of his personality – his art which was characterized by a subtle delicacy and his public persona which was combative. Whistler blended his work with music by entitling them “arrangements”, “harmonies”, and “nocturnes”. The play ends with a pointy description of how Whistler came to paint his most famous painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, which is commonly known as Whistler’s Mother – the revered portrait of motherhood.

 

For more information or

to book a performance:

CONTACT STEPHEN COLLINS

978-853-0710 or walt978@aol.com

Or use this form

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William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Shake-Scene I

Who had more effect on the English language than William Shakespeare? He created over 1700 common words that before him were either used in a new manner or didn’t exist at all. He did this by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, or just invented entirely new words from scratch.

Let actor Stephen Collins make Shakespeare’s words come alive for your audience. From the evil machinations of Richard III, to the philosophical bantering of Falstaff, to the brilliant oratory of Brutus and Antony, Stephen brings the Bard’s words to life. Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies, histories, and Sonnets are all represented in this exciting show.

Shake-Scene II

A further examination, dramatically, of the Bard’s famous work. This time Stephen will perform as King Lear, Edmund, Iago, Prospero, Bottom and others. Nothing from Shake-Scene I is repeated here.

Some past performances

 

For more information or

to book a performance:

CONTACT STEPHEN COLLINS

978-853-0710 or walt978@aol.com

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7 + 12 =

Irish Voices

Irish Voices

They call it The Norton Anthology of English Literature and yet many of the writers included were born in Ireland. The commonality, of course, is the English language but there are vast cultural differences which will be explored in this performance. A great deal of Irish writing deals with the land, the past, the church, and the changing political landscape. Yeats, Joyce, Heaney, McCourt, and other prominent writers are represented in this dramatic offering.

 

 

For more information or

to book a performance:

CONTACT STEPHEN COLLINS

978-853-0710 or walt978@aol.com

Or use this form

8 + 5 =