The Daniel E. Offutt III Charitable Trust has awarded Thrown Stone Theatre Company a grant to commission a new work about folk painter Ammi Phillips.
“I first learned about Ammi Phillips on ‘Searching For The Lost Limner,’ an episode of Davis Dunavin’s ‘Off The Path’ podcast,” said co-artistic director Jonathan Winn. “He lived on the early American frontier, working as a traveling portrait painter throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. But he rarely signed his own work — the podcast explored the fascinating story of how his legacy as one of the most prolific folk painters of his time was uncovered. Just as fascinating was the world he lived in, bookended by the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. His life coincided with the gradual abolition of slavery in Connecticut between 1784 and 1848. It is difficult to look at history through the lens of contemporary values, but the life and career of Ammi Phillips invites us to do just that. It is a reflection on living through great change.”
The Ridgefield based theater company announced that they have commissioned award-winning playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger to write the play about Phillips.
“We approached Jacqui because we are moved by her ability – in plays like “The Arsonists” and the Yale Award-winning “Bottle Fly” – to create complex tapestries of the American experience,” added co-artistic director, Jason Peck. “Her characters are everyday, often overlooked Americans, whose struggles we connect with, while acknowledging their problematic legacies.”
Goldfinger previously collaborated with Thrown Stone in 2018 when the theater staged her play “The Arsonists.” The playwright is currently working on commissions with The Wilma Theatre, The Arden Theater, L’Engle Estate/ The Kennedy Theater and Florida Studio Theater. Goldfinger won the Yale Drama Prize, Smith Prize, Generations Award, Brown Martin Award and Philadelphia Critics Award for her work.
Work on the new play will begin in January 2021. Workshops and public readings will be held in October of that year in collaboration with the Ridgefield Library, Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center, Ridgefield Historical Society, Kent Historical Society, and other local organizations. The American Folk Art Museum, whose collection includes several works by Phillips, will be working with Thrown Stone in an advisory capacity for the play.
The grant from the Daniel E. Offutt III Charitable Trust was awarded in the memory of Offlutt, a Weston resident with a passion for projects and collecting. The funds from the grant will cover Goldfinger’s commission fee, professional workshops and two public readings in Ridgefield and Kent.
For more information about Thrown Stone, visit thrownstone.org.