Play explores life of Westport's Paul Cuffe

"Paul Cuffe: In Search of a New Land" will be held at Dedee Shattuck Gallery

By Ted Hayes
Posted 8/12/22

Westport will soon host a reading of chosen scenes from an original play by Samuel Harps, based on the life of Captain Paul Cuffe.

The performance of Samuel Harps' "Paul Cuffe: In Search of a New …

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Play explores life of Westport's Paul Cuffe

"Paul Cuffe: In Search of a New Land" will be held at Dedee Shattuck Gallery

Posted

Westport will soon host a reading of chosen scenes from an original play by Samuel Harps, based on the life of Captain Paul Cuffe.

The performance of Samuel Harps' "Paul Cuffe: In Search of a New Land," will be staged Friday, Sept. 9 at the Dedee Shattuck Gallery. It will be the first preview of the play before a live audience, offering new perspectives on Cuffe (1759-1817), whose struggles and achievements as a person of African American and Native American descent in early 19th century New England continue to resonate today.

“In my quest to bring more stories of African-American historical figures and events to the stage, it is important to bring an audience into the early phase of the rehearsal process," Harps said. "A group of talented actors from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York will read scenes from our two-act drama as we embark on a journey to bring the play into full fruition."

This event is part of an effort to raise funds to support future development of the play.

“Although this stage reading is free, I hope to gauge enthusiasm and to seek support for producing a full length play,” said Harps, who is staging the live performance in partnership with the Westport Historical Society.

"We want to reach new audiences, beyond the sphere of scholars and historians,” the society's executive director, Jenny O’Neill, said. “We are excited and curious to see how Cuffe’s life can be portrayed on stage and to be part of the creative process.”

Harps is an award-winning playwright from New York. He is the founder and artistic director of Shades Repertory Theater in Rockland, NY, and his latest works focus on African American historical events and people. New York productions include The Paul Roberson Theater, The National Black Theater, The Billie Holiday Theater, Theater for the New City, Theater Four, Duality Playhouse, and HERE Theater.

The program is supported by a grant from the Westport Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Helen E. Ellis Charitable Trust administered by Bank of America.

The Sept. 9 performance begins at 7:30 p.m., and a pre-performance reception with light refreshments begins at 6:30 p.m. Though it is free, pre-registration is required as seating is limited. You can pre-register at www.wpthistory.org/events.

To learn more about Paul Cuffe, see www.paulcuffe.org.

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