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Monday, 30 August 2010 10:17

VERITAS Wins NY Int'l Fringe Festival Overall Excellence Award for Best Ensemble


“VERITAS”  Harvard's "Secret Court": a gay witch-hunt


Directed by Ryan J Davis, the critically acclaimed Perkins 28 Productions presentation of “Veritas” by Stan Richardson won the Overall Excellence Award for Best Ensemble for the 14th New York International Fringe Festival–FringeNYC.  The entire run Sold Out before the Festival even began and an added show also immediately sold out.  Nathan Vernon and Deconstructive Theatre Project are the associate producers.  Inspired by true events, “Veritas” is the story of a group of young men at Harvard in 1920 whose promising futures fell prey to Harvard's "Secret Court": a gay witch-hunt conducted by school administration to purge Harvard of all homosexuality. The critically acclaimed talented cast includes Justin Blanchard, Paul Downs Colaizzo, Mitch Dean, Morgan Karr, Doug Kreeger, Eric Nelsen, Matt Steiner, Jesse Swenson, Sam Underwood, and Joseph Yeargain.  Costumes are by Matthew Pachtman, lighting by Brian Tovar, sound design by Jessica Paz and Carrie Brewer is the fight director. Casting is by Daryl Eisenberg; assistant director is Alex Jensen and Adam J. Thompson is the dramaturg. The associate producer/stage manager is Corey Phillips. Maria de Cesare is the website designer and David Tomczak is the company manager.  Performances at HERE Arts Center Mainstage Theater, 145 6th Avenue were: Fri 8/20 @ 7pm; Sun 8/22 @ 8pm; Tue 8/24 @ 4:15pm; Fri 8/27 @ 5:15pm; Sat 8/28 @ 8pm and the added show on Thurs 8/26 at 3:30pm to the Sold Out in advance run.  This may have been a first for the Fringe Festival that an entire run of a production was completely Sold Out prior to the start of the Festival and over a week before the first performances for the show.     1hr 40mins       

                 May 13, 1920: Cyril Wilcox, Class of 1922, on temporary withdrawal from Harvard due to nervous illness, is found dead from asphyxiation by gas in his childhood bedroom in Fall River, Massachusetts.  His family discovers letters from friends, including Ernest Weeks Roberts, also Class of ‘22 and the son of a prominent former MA congressman, implicating Cyril in an underground homosexual community at Harvard.  A week later Cyril’s older brother, George Lester Wilcox (’14), tracks down Harry Dreyfus, the owner Café Dreyfus and a recent lover of Cyril’s, and violently extracts from him the names of known homosexuals at Harvard.  He then visits Acting Dean of the College with these letters and names, demanding that Harvard take some action.  The following day, Dean Greenough and President A. Lawrence Lowell, along with three other deans, covertly form “The Court.”  May 26–June 2: The proctor of Perkins Hall delivers to The Court a list of frequent attendees at “bitch parties” held in room 28 of Ernest Weeks Roberts.  The first round of trials begins, including Roberts, Kenneth Day, a track star and Cyril’s former roommate, Eugene Cummings, a dentistry student and family friend of the Wilcoxes, and Joseph Lumbard, speaking in defense of his effeminate roommate Edward Say who had been much named in the letters and interrogations.  June 3–10: An informal conversation between the Asst. Dean and med student Nathaniel Wollf (’23) triggers a second wave of trials.  Among those interrogated are Wollf, his sometime-lover Keith Smerage (’21), a newly-minted member of the Harvard Dramatic Club, Stanley Gilkey (23), who admitted an interest in homosexuality, but solely through the lens of criminology.  The next day Cummings commits suicide by poison at the Infirmary just before The Court hands down its verdicts.  The “guilty”—including Roberts, Day, Say, Cummings, Wollf and Smerage et al—are forced to leave Cambridge immediately.  March-June, 2002: A box marked “Secret Court” is found in the University Archives.  After much bureaucratic wrangling, the University releases to the Harvard Crimson a redacted version of the records.

            Stan Richardson is a playwright and director. His plays are “The Tale of the Good Whistleblower of Chaillot’s Caucasian Mother and Her Other Children of a Lesser Marriage Chalk Circle” (with composer Rachel Peters), “The Children” (New York Musical Theatre Festival; with composer Hal Goldberg), “wHormone” and “All the World’s Problems”, have received workshops and readings at such venues as Second Stage, Ars Nova, Classic Stage Company, Dixon Place, PS122, The Brick Theatre. His play, “Another Brief Encounter”, was published in Plays & Playwrights 2007. An alumnus of NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, the Upright Citizens Brigade, and Edward Albee’s Playwrights’ Workshop, and a former resident of Albee’s “Barn,” Stan is a contributor to and a member of The Dramatists Guild of America.

                Ryan J. Davis is the creator & associate producer of the Broadway-bound musical “White Noise”.  For the last four years, he has directed & co-produced “The Broadway Beauty Pageant,” a benefit for The Ali Forney Center.  He has directed at The New York Musical Theatre Festival (White Noise and Street Lights) and The New York International Fringe Festival (Vote!, Grace Falls, Genius Famous).  Other favorites include “Hedwig & The Angry Inch” and “My Life on the Craigslist”.  He is a member of the executive board of Brooklyn’s Lambda Independent Democrats and the board of The Deconstructive Theatre Project and has consulted on the campaigns of Howard Dean, Mark Green, Norman Siegel, and others.  He blogs for The Huffington Post & host a new podcast titled “Gay History: Uncut.”