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TBI Family – Please join us to view a staged reading of Bryan Halperin’s thought-provoking play, “The Hairy Man,” followed by a special talk back just for TBI, with the cast, facilitated by Rabbi Danson on Saturday, April 25 beginning at 6:30pm. The TBI exclusive talkback will begin at 845pm.

Bryan and Johanna are theatrical artists-in-residence at the Belknap Mill, and have put a reading and a talk-back together as a way to offer something this weekend, since the live theatrical event scheduled had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The staged reading will be available Belknap Mill’s YouTube page beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 24. Folk are encouraged to watch the video at their leisure that weekend and join Bryan, Johanna and some of the cast for a live “online” talkback on Sunday, April 26 at 2 p.m. Those who wish can make a donation to the Belknap Mill to help support its operations during this difficult time,

Bryan has generously agreed to offer an additional talk back for TBI, which we are presenting in connection with viewing the reading “together” on Saturday. If you would like to view the reading at a different time, please visit the Belknap Mill website or Facebook page, but plan to join us for the TBI talk back at approximately 8:45PM Saturday evening.

“The Hairy Man” takes place in 1935, during the Great Depression. Lonely, imaginative 11-year-old Johanna “Jojo” Benton is play acting a story one evening in her family’s Kentucky barn when her solitude is interrupted by a stranger. A destitute wanderer with a long beard and curly hair, Jojo suspects he is the “Hairy Man” — a sinister trickster from a southern American folk tale her late father used to tell her — whom she thinks has come to take her away.

But the man is simply a poor Jewish immigrant, Abraham Goldstein, making his way to California to begin a new life. Jojo’s mother, Sarah, takes pity on the penniless, starving man and allows him to stay in the barn and work on the farm to earn money to continue his journey, despite the objections of her older son, Will, who is suspicious of this outsider, the first Jew they have ever met. As weeks pass, Jojo and Abraham discover a shared love of storytelling and create a theatre in the barn, while Sarah and Abraham learn they have more in common than they could ever have imagined.

Bryan and Johanna held a live reading of this play at the Little Church Theatre in Holderness in the summer of 2018. The four actors from that performance are all returning for this “revival”. Doug Wert plays Abraham, Tamara McGonagle plays Sarah, Sophie Pankhurst plays Jojo, and Jakov Schwartzberg plays Will. Katie Griffiths reads the stage directions and hosts. Doug and Tamara played leading roles in the first Belknap Mill reading last fall, “An Enemy of the People.” For those who saw the reading in 2018, this is a new draft with changes that came out of the discussions from that reading and from further development. Since 2018, the play was selected by the Firehouse Theatre in Newburyport, MA as its 2019 Pestalozzi Prize winner and given a reading. It was then a semi-finalist for the Premiere Play Festival at Premiere Stages in New Jersey.

Most recently “The Hairy Man” was a finalist for the 2020 JETFest, an annual new play festival at the JET Theatre, a professional theatre in Michigan. In fact, Bryan and Johanna were set to fly to Michigan for a professional reading on March 15, which was postponed due to the Coronavirus. Says Bryan, “As excited as we were to see it performed in Michigan, we are taking consolation in being able to share this latest draft with our extended online Lakes Region community and beyond and getting a chance to hear the original actors perform the new version. We hope people at home looking for entertainment will join us and consider supporting the Mill in the process.”

Details on how to watch will be available on the Belknap Mill’s Facebook page and Website. For more information contact Tara Shore, Program & Operations Manager at: [email protected] or by calling the Mill at: 603-524-8813.