Dionysus Theatre Company

Papermaker

by Monica Wood

Performance Dates
Friday, October 28 at 8:00pm
Saturday, October 29 at 8:00pm
Sunday, October 30 at 2:00pm

Friday, November 4 at 8:00pm
Saturday, November 5 at 8:00pm
Sunday, November 6 at 2:00pm

Abbott Falls, Maine, 1989.

Ernie’s taken a notion. He got it in his head to build an ark. Without his job at the papermill for the last three months and his wife ill at home, Ernie Donohue is building an ark in his backyard. “A man’s gotta do something with his hands. Maybe that’s all there is to it,” Ernie reasons.

Meanwhile, three months battling the union has made Atlantic Paper Company CEO Henry John McCoy weary. He didn’t expect such a fight from these small-town Maine papermakers. Though Henry knows better than to underestimate Irishmen.

Also without a job and with a new baby at home, Ernie’s son, Jake, is feeling the pressure to cross the picket line and return to work at the mill. But doing so means turning his back on generations of papermakers before him. “It’s not just the men on the line you’re facing,” his mother tells him. “It’s the ghosts of the men before them. The ones who worked double-twelves with no insurance, no safety measures, no dignity, Jake. You don’t know what that feels like, because of them.”

Jake’s father tells him, “You set foot over that picket line, your grandfathers can feel your boot on their crumbling bones.”

Things get complicated when the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’ blur.

Support the production!

Building an ark is no small feat, and your support helps make this production possible!

When you donate, your name or business will be listed on our website and displayed at Arts Center East in the ground floor entranceway in the following categories:

Audition Notice!

Auditions for Papermaker will be held at Art Center East 709 Hartford Turnpike Vernon, CT August 8 and 10, 6:30-8:00pm. Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. No appointments necessary. Visit the DTC website for character breakdowns and play synopsis. Any further questions contact  Gabbi Mendelsohn at dionysustheatrecompany@gmail.com.

A Doll’s House Part 2

Dionysus Theatre Company began their 2022 season with Lucas Hnath’s play A Doll’s House Part 2. The play follows Nora as she returns to the home she left 15 years earlier and the family she left behind. This production was the first time DTC was back on stage at Arts Center East since their 2019 production of Detroit ’67.

This production is made possible by support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts

Detroit ’67

September 24, 2019

After a successful run of shows at Arts Center East, Gabbi Mendelssohn and Dionysus Theatre Company (DTC) are bringing their production of Detroit ’67 to Rockville High School. The show will be performed during the school day, Friday, September 27 for the 11th grade class. The 11th grade curriculum typically includes the acclaimed play, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Both A Raisin in the Sun and Detroit ’67 tell stories of black families in 1950s and 1960s America, respectively, trying to achieve the American Dream, and confronting ideas of who has access to achieve that dream. A Raisin in the Sun is one of Gabbi’s favorite plays, and one she considered producing for DTC, but instead she chose Detroit ’67, after seeing a production at Hartford Stage. “After seeing the show,” Gabbi said, “I just wanted to take it in and process it and spend time with these characters.” Like A Raisin in the Sun, Detroit ’67 is a story centered on family relationships.

Set in 1967 Detroit, sister and brother, Chelle and Lank, have reinstituted their make-shift after-hours joint in their house on Twelfth Street, with all the hottest music of the day: The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas. Chelle and her brother are offering some distraction and good time, “just trying to make a lil’ money the best way we know how” (Morriseau. Detroit ’67, Samuel French, 2014, p.16). Of course, the after-hours joint is not exactly legal, and the city cops have been cracking down. But Lank wants more for himself and his family. “I’m tired of […] runnin’ joints outta my basement like I got somethin’ to hide. Like the only way I can be somethin’ is underground. I’m ready to be above ground just like them white folks. Ain’t no tellin’ what Detroit could be if we was all put to good use” (Morriseau. Detroit ’67, Samuel French, 2014, p.19-20). So Lank and his friend Sly have a plan for a new joint. But “The Big Four” have been targeting the Twelfth Street Neighborhood, and things are about to come to blows. Detroit ’67 is the first of three plays written by Morisseau, each depicting a different era in Detroit’s history (the other two are Paradise Blue, and Skeleton Crew).

 “It goes without saying that Detroit ’67 is still super relevant today,” said Gabbi. “We still live in a world struggling with prejudices and inequality, but ultimately this play is a message of perseverance and hope despite the moments when the world is against you.” The play is emotionally charged, both for the actors and the audience. In light of this, the Sunday matinee performances at Arts Center East included a talk-back between the audience and cast and crew after the show. It’s this openness to engagement and discussion that Gabbi wants to bring to the high school audience as well. Prior to the performance, students will be given some background and historical context for the show. Afterwards, moderated by Arts Center East board member Joao Goncalves, students will be invited to reflect on what they’ve seen and ask the actors more about their characters and their experience with the play. 

The RHS production will be staged in a way that is similar to DTC theatergoers. While the RHS auditorium has a capacity of approximately 800 audience members, this production will have a more intimate setting. Students will be seated on stage with the actors, similar to the stage set up at Arts Center East. This creates a more personal and immediate atmosphere for both the actors and audience, and also makes it easier to facilitate the closing discussion.

Beyond the message of the play itself, Gabbi hopes bringing the production to the high school will enhance the students’ experience with the material. While Rockville Highschool has a racially diverse population, “students don’t always see themselves on stage,” said Gabbi. This production will bring something different to the students, beyond just the words on the page.

Past Productions