Dramatic readings in Freeport illustrate life on the high seas

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FREEPORT — Letters and journal entries from 19th century sea captains, their wives and children will be read by local actors at the Harraseeket Grange Hall on Sunday, April 5 at 2 p.m.

The presentation is the newest edition of the Freeport Historical Society’s “Lessons from the Tam O’Shanter” series, a program made possible in part by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council.

Christina White, executive director of the society, said the grant has helped to answer questions surrounding the original 19th century cargo ship oil painting, the “Tam O’Shanter,” purchased from the Childs Gallery last year.

The Tam O’Shanter ship was built by Enos Chandler Soule at the Soule Brothers shipyard in South Freeport. It was a cargo vessel that traveled to San Francisco, Bombay and Hong Kong. The ship was lost in the Gaspar Straits in the China Sea in 1899.

“These dramatic readings – “Letters from the High Seas” – will be exciting theatrical pieces,” White said. “The actors will wear period influenced clothing and there will be period decorations.”

She said two descendants of the sea captains of the Tam O’Shanter will also attend the presentation. Laddie Drucker and Carol Farrell have relatives who sailed on the cargo ship in the 19th century. According to White, 84-year-old Drucker will hear her grandmother’s letters read aloud and make an appearance on stage.

Freeport resident Beth Muldoon will read from the letters of Mrs. Colcard, a sea captain’s wife.

“There is an amazing amount of history contained in these letters,” Muldoon said. “She is a reluctant sea captain’s wife, and it is clear in her letters.”

Muldoon, previously involved with the Maine Acting Company, the Brunswick Theater Project and the Monmouth Shakespeare Company, said she is pleased to represent Mrs. Colcard. She said in addition to her theater involvement, she was interested in the project because her husband, Town Councilor Bill Muldoon, is the chairman of the historical society’s board of trustees.

“This project is so interesting,” she said. “I am fascinated with history and it is amazing to read the sad and poignant letters between a mother and her son, and the wives of the captains.”

White said as the letters and journal entries are read, pictures of the authors will be displayed for the audience. She also said there will be a handout reference and maps available for the audience to learn about the places mentioned in the narration.

“These readings are beautiful and heartfelt,” she said. “They give us an idea of what it was like for women and children to travel to far away places with their husbands and experience new worlds.”

The performance will begin at 2 p.m. at 13 Elm St., at the Harraseeket Grange Hall. Tickets are $5 each and are free to children 10 and younger. The historical society requests that the audience bring a canned good to donate to the Food Pantry at the Freeport Community Center. Reservations can be made by calling the historical society at 865-3170.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.

Sidebar Elements


FREEPORT — In addition to the dramatic readings April 4, the Freeport Historical Society is showing the “Life & Times on the High Seas” exhibit at 45 Main St. through May 17. The exhibit includes sailor’s brass knuckes, illegal board games, and pipes from the sailors of the 19th century.

Collections manager Ned Allen set up a display of artifacts brought from Calcutta and Hong Kong, and the top hat and coat of the captain of the Tam O’Shanter.

The exhibit is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will also be a raffle for a re-created 19th century, wooden sea captain’s chest, made by local restoration artist Tom Ingersoll. The chest is a replica of the Samuels Banks chest, which is on display at the Harrington House, along with its replica and other raffle prizes. 

Other raffle prizes are a six-day cruise on the coast of Maine, and a five-course dinner for four at Azure Cafe, with accommodations at the James Place Inn.

Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and are available at the historical society at all the upcoming events. The drawing will take place at the annual meeting in May.

 

 

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