BROOKLIN — War, government interference and family collide in local farmer Jon Ellsworth’s first play, “Stream Crossings,” which the New Surry Theater will perform Feb. 8-10 at the Blue Hill Town Hall.
“Stream Crossings” follows several generations of a Maine logging family during the course of a particularly significant day in their lives.
“Sometimes it’s hard for me to relate to the NYC apartment play,” Ellsworth said. “I think this play could play out in any small rural town. It’s a very real play and I tried to write about a working family.”
“The main character, Dick, it’s a tough day for him,” Ellsworth said. Dick is a Vietnam War veteran who is having physical ailments and is at a transition in life.
Dick’s best friend, who did not return from the war, is on stage the entire time, but Dick is the only one who can see him.
“It’s a heavy play,” Ellsworth said. “I’m hoping some of my dry wit comes through.”
Ellsworth runs Carding Brook Farm in Brooklin with his wife, Jennifer Schroth (the late American publisher James Russell Wiggins’ granddaughter), and is also a logger.
“Jen says it’s funny,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s funny.”
Inspiration for the play came from a four-day, state-mandated logging course that Ellsworth and other woodsmen had to take in the late ’90s.
“I took the class in Gray,” Ellsworth said. “A lot of the guys came from northwest Maine, from the big woods.”
Some of these men had already worked in the woods for 50 years, he said.
“For the state to say, ‘now we’re going to teach you how to cut wood…’ there was a lot of tension,” Ellsworth recalled.
Nonetheless, the group tried to make the best of it.
“People were telling great stories,” Ellsworth said. “It was a good time.”
But on the third day, an Environmental Protection Agency representative showed up and “really belittled the class” Ellsworth said. “You could cut tension in the room with a knife. It was unbelievable. The men couldn’t believe they were being spoken to this way.”
That experience stayed with Ellsworth and he started writing about it and eventually showed a scene to New Surry Theatre’s artistic director, Bill Raiten.
“Bill and I have pushed and pulled this play to where it is,” Ellsworth said. “I had no idea how hard it would be. Bill is really demanding but if he wasn’t, I never would have finished it. I have a lot of respect for him.”
The play is 90 minutes and Ellsworth says it has adult language and some difficult subject matter. One scene includes firing a track meet pistol.
What: “Stream Crossings,” by Jon Ellsworth
When: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Feb. 8-9; 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10.
How much: $15 per person, $ for students and senior citizens.
Where: Blue Hill Town Hall Theater