Special to 1812Blockhouse, From Renaissance Performing Arts Association
Young and Unsullied, a new play by local playwrights Alison Bolen and Jason Kaufman, tells the harrowing, yet ultimately redemptive story of Ruby Crowe, a resident of Mansfield in the early decades of the 20th century. Ruby’s life unfolds through the lens of a trending YouTube star who discovers a 100-year-old letter in a condemned Victorian mansion on Park Avenue West.
Through the letter, we meet Ruby, her family, her confidant, and the Tarkington-esque social climbers of a turn of the century Midwestern industrial town. Though still in her teens, Ruby marries Alexander Tarr, a well known and ambitious lecturer on the Chautauqua circuit who will stop at nothing to build his empire. When he implicates Ruby in a lewd scheme to win over a wealthy investor, she is pushed to her breaking point. It’s a story of fame, abuse, and sexual betrayal simmering beneath a venner of opulence, intellectualsim and Victorian propriety.
“When we first read Ruby’s letter, we were stunned by the many abuses she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband, but slowly we became captivated by her eloquence and her strength” said playwright, Jason Kaufman. “Her letter is a great example of how important it is for survivors of abuse to tell their story. Trauma has a way of haunting us, but once we’ve put it into a narrative, that trauma loses some of its power. This is one of many reasons that we are proud to be telling this story. We hope it can inspire other survivors to tell their stories.”
Young and Unsullied is among the first of many works presented by the Emerging Artist Program at Renaissance Theatre. The Emerging Artists Program was developed by Michael Thomas to help guide, encourage, support, and advocate for artists of all ages who wish to find their own voice through the creation of original work. The program opens up opportunities for original works and actors as well as new directors. Such is the case with Young and Unsullied director, Niko Carter, as this production will be his first of many he will direct.
“When Michael first approached me, he told me all about Ruby Crowe and I fell in love with her story,” said director Niko Carter. “This will be my first piece that I have directed since 2020 when Covid cut my in-person college career short. I am so honored to have a cast and creative team who love Ruby’s story as much as I do. The story of Ruby Crowe is so important to tell, especially today, in a world where this is still such a problem.”
The production has also partnered with The Domestic Violence Shelter in Mansfield to bring awareness and support to an organization that’s mission is to provide safety, education, and supportive services to those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.
“Discovering the abuse Ruby Crowe endured from her first husband was absolutely heartbreaking” said Ryan Shreve, who plays Ruby Crowe’s second husband, W. W. Stark. “When Jason told us that we’d be supporting The Domestic Violence Shelter with this piece, it changed the game for us. We weren’t just telling a story anymore, we were telling thousands of stories, bringing light to a topic that frankly isn’t discussed nearly enough.”
Young and Unsullied opens April 1 at 8:00 PM and closes the following night, April 2 at 8:00 PM. Tickets are only $10. For tickets or more information, visit https://bit.ly/YoungUnsulliedPR or call the box office at 419-522-2726
The production will also be available for at-home streaming following the live performances. The stream will be available for the entire month of April, starting April 4. For streaming information, please visit https://bit.ly/YoungUnsulliedPR.