Ten Dollar House Playwrights seduced by Bob and EdgarÕs story

 

It was just an ordinary honeymoon for 2nd time newlyweds and Chicago-area librarians– a trip to Spring Green for a tour of Taliesin and a play at American Players Theater – but it turned out to be a life-changing trip.

 

Rick Kinnebrew and I were at first surrounded by interesting but rather inauspicious omens: in the summer of 2009, due to the recent publication of the book, Loving Frank, Taliesin was featuring the salacious story of Mr. WrightÕs adultery and the horrific murder of his mistress on the property. We saw The WinterÕs Tale, ShakespeareÕs devastating adultery play. We were hungry for a love story or at least some good news about late-in-life love, on our brief honeymoon.

 

We heard about Mineral Point (a nice artistsÕ colony) at intermission at American Players Theater. We had half a day, so why not? Then we passed Pendarvis on the way in and we took a chance. That spring Pendarvis also showcased in TamblinÕs Row an additional exhibit about some of Bob and EdgarÕs furniture.  As we looked at the beautiful pieces they had acquired together, we began to hope – could it be? A real, loving relationship? We bought On the Shake Rag in the gift shop to find out and fell deeply in love with EdgarÕs voice, and especially his practical and emotionally intelligent relationship advice, captured so well by Kori Oberle, former curator of Pendarvis.

 

We fell in love with his voice? See, we werenÕt just librarians; we were secretly playwrights. WeÕd written a play together and wanted to do another. We ordered A Passion to Preserve by Will Fellows and eagerly read the Bob and Edgar section. We got on the phone and begged Will for help with research; he gave us 2 boxes of historical information! We planned our next trip to Mineral Point to visit the Mineral Point Public Library and got our own box of research.  We ran into Jim Stroschein on the grounds of Orchard Lawn and he got us a tour that included the belvedere. We walked by Shake Rag Alley and met Mr. Felly and Coleman. We came back again to write together over Christmas, huddled near the stove on the first floor of the Mineral Point Hotel.

 

We entered our first (desperately in need of editing) screenplay into the first annual Great Gay Screenplay competition run by Pride Films and Plays in Chicago – and became semi-finalists. We performed it as a reading to show our friends – and discovered it made people cry, a great feat for playwrights! We contacted Ainsley Anderson, who had replaced Coleman as Artistic Director of Alley Stage; she and Don Hay invited us up to do a reading of the screenplay and then commissioned us to create a play for Alley Stage.

 

What was it like to bring Ten Dollar House, which opened first in Spring of 2015 at MadisonÕs Broom Street Theater and, after extensive revisions, opened again in Evanston 2016 with the support of Pride Films and Plays, back to Mineral Point last year?

 

You should have seen the cast as they first pulled into town, amazed (after having performed the show 16 times) that there REALLY was a place called Mineral Point.

 

Never have we attended a performance of any kind in which the audience was so sensitive to and immersed in the story as last yearÕs audience at the Mineral Point Opera House! It drew out the best performances our terrific cast had ever given. We had of course always wanted to give back to Mineral Point their own founding myth that had fed us when we most needed Bob and EdgarÕs inspiration and good words, to share the joy of discovery weÕd had as we learned more about these two people ahead of their time in both historic preservation and in love.

 

As Edgar says, ŌThe whole secret is sharing. It comes back ten thousand times. The bread comes back on the waterÉCertain little things that were unexpected, nice things that happened to both of us – it came indirectly from having É been kind or considerate or generous.Ķ

 

Well, big thanks to Mineral Point for being generous with their story, sharing their beautifully preserved buildings, and keeping their history alive at the Mineral Point Public Library. Ten Dollar House is for you.

 

This yearÕs Historic Preservation Weekend will be better than last year with two lectures by noted Wisconsin historian Will Fellows, TWO performances of the play, as well as an open house of historic homes and much more. Stay in touch with the Chamber of Commerce to learn more!

 

Martha Meyer

Assistant Playwright and Producer, Ten Dollar House