Ipswich Massachusetts Playwright Invited to Smithsonian Museum for Historic Production Inside the Museum

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Fifty years after a historic house from Ipswich Massachusetts was saved from demolition by two concerned residents and relocated to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., the Museum invites a local Ipswich theatre group for a historic production of J.T. Turner’s Within These Walls to be performed in front of the very house that inspired the work. Jean Moss of Olde Ipswich Tours is arranging a trip for locals and history lovers to attend this historic performance.

Ipswich Massachusetts

Members of The Actors Company taking a bow for J.T. Turner’s Within These Walls

[This historic performance at the Smithsonian] is a gift from Massachusetts to the nation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic preservation intervention of Kay Thompson and Helen Lunt, two housewives who in 1963 recognized that chapters of American history, written within the walls of a simple clapboard house slated for destruction in Ipswich, Massachusetts, were in peril. Through their efforts, the historic house was relocated to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., where it still resides as the Museum’s largest single artifact on permanent display.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary, the Smithsonian has invited Members of The Actors Company to travel to the Museum for a historic performance of Ipswich playwright J.T. Turner's original living history theatrical production, "Within These Walls," in front of the very house that inspired the work.

J.T. Turner has been recognized at the highest level for "Within These Walls," a play that tells the story of one house, five families, and two hundred years of history. The play introduces Kay Thompson and Helen Lunt, along with five of the families who lived at 16 Elm Street. In learning of their life and times, we see the arch of American History as it played out in the kitchens and parlors of ordinary citizens.

“'Within These Walls' is a celebration of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Kerrie Bates of the Ipswich Visitor Center remarks. “It is a gift from Massachusetts to the nation.” As a result, the Ipswich Visitor Center has launched a campaign to raise the $5,000 needed to send their local Ipswich players to the national stage. For information on the fundraiser, visit the Ipswich Massachusetts Visitor Center website.

But why stop there? On this historic event, some have decided to join the troupe in D.C. Small group tours operator, Olde Ipswich Tours, has arranged a 5-day/4-night trip from Ipswich, MA to Washington D.C. In addition to being present for the historic production of J.T. Turner’s play, “we will have private expert-led tours at three of the best museums in the U.S. which all own historic houses from Ipswich,” said Jean Moss of Olde Ipswich Tours. Entire rooms from Ipswich’s 1640 Hart House, for example, are major attractions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, Maryland. “This unique museum tour is for everyone interested in American history and historic houses.”

Closer to home, "Within These Walls" is offered annually at 16 Elm Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts, on the very spot where the house long stood. The stage is set around a three dimensional, three-quarter scale, painted canvass replica of the house which has over time become a part of the fabric of the community. This year’s free performance will take place on Saturday, September 28th, 2013, as part of both Ipswich Arts & Illumination, winner of the Massachusetts Cultural Councils Gold Start for Excellence Award, and The Essex National Heritage Area's Trails & Sails Event.

Finally, in an effort to share "Within These Walls" with the public all year long, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Ipswich Visitor Center invites the public to visit their Virtual Museum. Here one can download a digital recording of the world premiere of J.T. Turner's "Within These Walls" and explore the Smithsonian's interactive content.

For more information or interviews please contact Kerrie Bates, Director of Ipswich ReCreation & Culture, at (978) 375-0324 or kerrieb(at)ipswich-ma(dot)gov.

Olde Ipswich Tours is a small group tours operator based in Ipswich, Massachusetts specializing in culturally rich gourmet tours to Europe and in the New England region. For a complete list of upcoming small group tours, or to learn more about Olde Ipswich Tours, visit our website today.

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