In 1739 Lawrence Armstrong, Lt. Governor of the Fort and Town of Annapolis Royal, was found dead with five stab wounds in his chest. Armstrong, a notably irascible figure, had been stabbed with his own sword. At a hastily called inquest it was found that Armstrong had committed "suicide in a fit of lunacy". Considering the length of a sword, this was a fairly miraculous suicide. This scenario is the background behind Kent Thompson's play 5 Stab Wounds in the Governor which was performed outside at the O'Dell House Museum on Sunday.
5 Stab Wounds is actually the first play which was written for the Annapolis Heritage Society's Tales From a Tiny Perfect Town series. When it was first performed in 2007, the play moved between five different local buildings. Sunday was the first time that the production has happened on stage. The original cast of Madaline Akin Carhart, Brenda Thompson, Brenda Keen and Kent Thompson reprised their roles. Based on the crowd reaction, this production was every bit as well received as the original. This was also a great test of the back yard of the museum for holding such events. I have a feeling that we will be seeing more of this sort of activity in the future.
One of the key features of our Tales series is that there is some form of food service associated with the production. As I write this I can hear Kent Thompson saying "you have to feed an audience". For this performance we served brown bread and molasses, tomato bisque soup, cookies and apple cider. Our thanks go to a small army of volunteers led by Michelle Hall who helped to prepare and serve the refreshments. The food adds considerably to the festive atmosphere of the production.
Like Washing Soldiers 1797, this play is an attempt to bring history out of the museum. Annapolis Royal has a history that should be the envy of most communities. If we do not take the opportunity to celebrate this history in a public way we cannot be surprised if nobody takes interest. Breaking down the walls of the museum to make our heritage accessible is an important part of the Tales project. By presenting events like the death of Lt. Governor Armstrong and the vsit of the Duke of Kent in dramatic fashion we are trying to draw people into the fascinating history of Annapolis Royal. Hopefully we will also bring a few of these people into our museums as well.
All for now,