Many people read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic The Scarlet Letter in high school English class. Now, a local theater group and historical organization are teaming up to let people immerse themselves inside the familiar tale.
History Alive Inc., a theater company focused on productions that illuminate history, will be performing a unique version of the story at The House of Seven Gables on August 5, 6, 7, and 19. During each 90-minute performance, the audience will walk throughout the 2.5-acre National Historic Landmark site along with the actors.
“The campus of The House of the Seven Gables transforms into an immersive village with townspeople going about their day-to-day lives,” says Kristina Stevick, History Alive’s creative director.
Hawthorne himself becomes a character in the production, as he wanders through his village, sharing his thoughts and motivations for writing a new novel that will become The Scarlet Letter we know today. The show features a large cast and is open to audience participation. Those in attendance are invited to assume the role of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s friend and confidant. Just 30 tickets will be sold for each performance, to promote and intimate and open exchange.
History Alive was formed to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials with its 1992 production of Cry Innocent : the People vs. Bridget Bishop, an interactive piece created to be performed in downtown Salem. In the decades since, the company has created many theater productions that use place and audience interaction to immerse viewers in history.
The House of Seven Gables was built by a merchant and shipowner in 1668, and is today best known as the setting and inspiration for the Hawthorne book that bears its name. The campus on which it sits includes manicured colonial revival gardens and several historical buildings.
Reservations for The Scarlet Letter can be made at 7gables.org/events.