Dionysus Theatre Company is performing Papermaker by Monica Wood at Arts Center East
Abbott Falls, Maine, in 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.