Blue Hill playwright weaves addiction tale



Blue Hill resident Patrick Harris’s first play, “An Intervention,” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Saturday, at the Barn Arts Collective in Bass Harbor.
LIZ GRAVES PHOTO

TREMONT — Hancock County theatergoers know Patrick Harris of Blue Hill from roles he has played at the New Surry Theatre, The Grand and elsewhere. This past winter he wrote his first play, “An Intervention.” It will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Barn Arts Collective in Bass Harbor.

The play follows a young woman named Molly, a singer and waitress, through an intervention brought about by her alcohol use. Organized by her stepsister, the intervention also includes Molly’s ex-boyfriend, aunt, mother and stepfather.

There’s a powerful twist near the end and audience members are left pondering their own complicity in destructive behavior in themselves and others. The play ends with Molly singing “Tom Traubert’s Blues [Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen],” Tom Waits’ takeoff on “Waltzing Matilda,” and there won’t be many dry eyes.

“It’s become weirdly topical,” Harris said recently, noting a spike in people under 30 struggling with addiction to alcohol and other substances. “People are just self-medicating a lot because the world is kind of difficult to cope with.”

The play began life as a single scene. Harris worked with Bill Raiten, former director of New Surry, in a 1-on-1 playwriting tutorial.

“His whole thing was, ‘I’m not a writer,’” Harris said. “But he has a good sense of whether a piece of writing will work as drama.”

Early drafts, he said, read more like a long-form magazine article — not enough interaction. It started as one prolonged scene, then it began subdividing itself as cells do, as he worked to give the audience a sense of who these people are outside of this particular situation.

Harris sent an early draft to his friends Jay Eddy and Sam Plattus, with whom he had performed in “Spamalot” at the Grand in 2014. The pair are co-artistic directors of The Harpers Theater in New Haven, Conn.

“Jay sent back a bunch of really helpful notes right away,” he said. “She also said the story had been sticking in her head, and she thought it was worth developing.”

Eddy suggested applying for a week’s residency at the Barn this summer to workshop the play with an eye toward producing it in New Haven this fall. The Barn offers a Local Residency Series.

“An Intervention.” fits with The Harpers’ social mission, which includes destigmatizing mental illness and disabilities.

The Harpers hosted an initial reading in May and plan a full production as part of their fall season. Plattus will direct both the Barn workshop production and the later one. Eddy will play Molly.

For the workshop, Cherie Magnello and David Lane play Molly’s parents, Eve and Phil. Jeremy Funke of The Harpers plays Connor, the ex-boyfriend. Kate Hall plays stepsister Justine, who leads the charge for the intervention.

The Barn Arts Collective is located at 130 Tremont Road in Bass Harbor. For more info, call 412-9435 or visit www.barnartscollective.com.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Managing Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Liz Graves is managing editor of the Islander. She's a California native who came to Maine as a schooner sailor.[email protected]