Celadineby Charles Evered
Larry Cedar, Holly Hawkins, Michael A. Newcomer, Giselle Wolf, Will Barker
(in order of appearance)
The Teale Coffeehouse in London during the 1670s
A Note from the PlaywrightCeladine was written as part of a trilogy of plays I wrote about spies and spying. The other two plays, Wilderness of Mirrors, which deals with the birth of the CIA, and The
Shoreham, which deals with a suspected terrorist in a university setting, are decidedly darker pieces with, sadly, more identifiable links to our everyday life. Celadine, on the other hand, was written almost out of a need for me to take a break from those more contemporary subjects after living with them for far too long as a writer.
A portrait of Aphra Behn, the
woman who inspired the title
character of "Celadine." Behn
was a writer--and possibly a
spy for King Charles II -- in
17th Century London.
The practical birth of Celadine emanated from the actress Amy Irving, who commissioned it. In that first production, starring Ms. Irving, and in incarnations since then, it’s been a great pleasure to work with actresses who appreciate the fact that not all women on stage (or certainly on TV and film) need to fall within the convenient and somewhat false paradigm of either being an “ingénue” or a “matron.” With the part of Celadine — as well as, I hope, with Mary — perhaps the play can go some way towards reminding us that women are still alive (very much so, in fact) between those chronological markers. As a playwright, I count myself as most fortunate to have two such amazing actresses in this production: Giselle Wolf and Holly Hawkins are a blessing for any playwright, as is this entire ensemble of accomplished actors.
As regards the play itself, if you’re looking for a dead-on academic and literally historical treatment of the period surrounding Charles II’s restoration and subsequent reign, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong play. The story within the play could have happened, of course, but didn’t. The character of Celadine was in many ways inspired by the real-life writer and assumed spy Aphra Behn, who lived during this time. She did lead a fascinating and multifaceted life, but she didn’t own a coffee house (as far as I’ve been able to ascertain). To emphasize that Celadine is not meant to represent Ms. Behn, I established her as an adversary of that groundbreaking actual writer.
My more modest ambition in writing the play was simply to tell the story of a complicated woman well ahead of her time who is obsessed with resurrecting (in some form) something that represents the greatest joy in her life. A woman who, while imperfect, is not concerned with what people think of her and who, if she had been born a few hundred years hence, would still be viewed as living on the fringes of our society. And who, no doubt, would have no problem with that whatsoever.
My larger intent, however, is that you, the audience, simply enjoy the play. I thank you kindly for your support of this work, and more important, for the support you are showing the wonderful Colony Theatre by being here.
Charles Evered Princeton, New Jersey
“Celadine” is set in 1670s London, a socially and politically
tumultuous time that also, under King Charles II,
ushered in a new era of artistic expression.
The English civil war between the Royalists and the Puritans resulted in a long period of internal unrest during the 1640s. After King Charles I was tried and beheaded in 1649, England was governed by a committee appointed by Parliament, but by 1653 Oliver
Cromwell had become a virtual dictator. Cromwell died in 1653 and his son, who had been chosen as his successor, could not maintain control of the realm. In 1660, the Stuarts were restored to the throne in the name of Charles II. The period became known to history as The Restoration.
During his reign, King Charles II
reopened theatres and encouraged
a tremendous amount of moral
freedom, even libertinism, on the
Under Charles II, England rejected the strict religious Puritanism of the Commonwealth under the Cromwells, and for a time the country became noted for its permissiveness. Charles, a strong patron of the arts and sciences, was a notorious libertine, reputed to have had innumerable illicit relationships during his reign, fathering dozens of children and founding a long list of pensioned-off mistresses. Known to travel in disguise and deal harshly with his opponents, he nonetheless nurtured a reputation as a fun-loving hedonist, a sort of “party boy” King. Indeed his nickname was “The Merrie Monarch.”
The theatres had been closed during the Puritan reign for moral reasons, but they were reopened when Charles II ascended the throne, and a certain moral freedom, even libertinism, was projected on the stage in the comedies of the day. Sexual intrigues were quite popular, with tales of infidelities and cuckoldry leading the way.
Despite this freewheeling environment, religious tensions continued to exist. The conflicts between Anglicans, Puritans, and Catholics informed every aspect of English life and culture, and were intensely political. To further complicate an already untidy situation, Charles II masqueraded as a Protestant for political purposes, but was rumored to be a Catholic. Spies were everywhere, and assassination attempts were not uncommon.
The mighty English sea power had been weakened during the civil war. The Dutch had
filled the void, and were competing for dominance in the New World and along trade routes.
As a result, England conducted two wars with the Dutch during Charles II's reign, and in the second war, the Dutch navy sailed a good way up the Thames and threatened London in the Battle of Medway, which ended with both sides claiming victory.
These were exciting times for the English – the empire was expanding and the revolt against Puritan repression had helped to create a court and a theatre tradition which reflected the dynamic period.
– Andrew Barnicle
Brad Brown Phil Torf & House of Props Wadler Data Systems John Rizzo