BU Today feature: Dreaming of Boston, When the Pandemic Is Behind Us
This article was originally published in BU Today on July 24, 2020. By Joel Brown
In 2024, a custodian gives a young woman access to MIT’s Great Dome so she can scatter her professor father’s ashes during the July 4 Boston Pops concert on the Esplanade. In 2025, a Revolutionary War reenactor finds himself moved once again by the drama at Concord’s North Bridge. And in spring 2022, a first date unfolds in the shadow of the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial on the edge of Boston Common.
Theater companies across the country are going virtual these days, with Zoom readings and podcasts filling in for live performances during the coronavirus pandemic. But the Huntington Theatre Company is going back to the future with Dream Boston, a series of short, audio-only original plays that harken back to the days of radio while pulling us forward into a hoped-for post-COVID era.
“These micro-plays are a response to the moment—to theaters being shut down, and wanting to gather to create art with friends and neighbors in a time when we can’t assemble,” says Charles Haugland, the Huntington’s director of new work.
The company has posted 4 of a planned series of at least 10 original plays by local writers, each six or seven minutes long and set in a beloved local landmark. The charge to the playwrights was to bring us into a future when people can once again meet and thrive in the city—to be optimistic about our collective future…
The 54th in ’22, by Kirsten Greenidge, a College of Fine Arts associate professor of playwriting and theater arts, has the most obvious connection to those events, being set at the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial across from the Statehouse, on the edge of Boston Common, in spring 2022. She had already written the piece, about an awkward first date between characters played by Brandon G. Green and Lyndsay Allyn Cox, by the time the protests began, but seeing live TV coverage of protests on that very spot sent her back to the text to address that.
Still, she says, “I wanted to make sure wherever the piece started, that we ended up in a hopeful place.”