Is there anything new in the works?
Yes, as a matter of fact there is. "Return to Bluefin" will be produced by The Bay Theatre Company in Annapolis, Maryland in late spring 2010. Below is a synopsis and character profile for the benefit of those interested in auditioning for the play.
Nothing is more intoxicating than a noble cause – and Peck Wilson is a man with a cause: to restore the Chesapeake Bay to a pristine glory not seen in over a hundred years. He sees crystalline clear water teeming with dense populations of rockfish, shad, bluefin crabs, and oysters. But most of all he envisions oyster beds as thick as a skipjack's beam, because it's the extraordinary filtering capacity of these remarkable creatures that he sees bringing the bay back to health and abundance. Thus he fights to extend a complete moratorium on harvesting oysters for an unprecedented fifth year. But it is this very quest for clarity in the bay that leads him into dangerous and uncharted waters in his own life. Areas unexplored that now shake the very idea of his own identity. The question is, "Who is Peck Wilson?" And the answer can only be found in a watermen's bar in the town of Bluefin named "Gertie's," a place of honest-to-God belly laughs and a sense of tragic loss in the air.
Gertie Phillips runs a good bar. It's not the kind of place outsiders even know about, much less visit, and if the occasional "chickennecker" (anyone who wasn't born in Bluefin) does stumble in asking for "a good imported Pale Ale," they probably won't hang around very long. And when the watermen who call the place home get unruly, as watermen have been known to do from time to time, they're up against a woman who, even at age 54, can handle them. She knows you don't have to hit anybody over the head with a baseball bat to restore order. You run it long ways into their ribs real good. Gertie is smart and has a keen sense of humor, but there is also an air of bitter resignation about her that can give her a hard edge that earlier may have been a conscious veneer, but somewhere along the line just became her way.
The only refinement you're likely to see here walks in about 5 every evening in the form of Miss Meg, who definitely sees herself as a cut above and probably is. At 75, she still sports a trim figure and with her sharp wit, she is every bit the match for her crude cousins in the haunt. When asked why she bothers to even come into such a place, she replies, "It's not like there's really all that much choice around here. What it comes down to is you either go out - or you sit home. If you go out, you're going to see the same faces no matter where you go. And if you sit home the days might as well not have names, and the day might as well not have different hours. It's all the same. So I go out."
Bear Rattigan is a big man as the nickname implies, but despite the rough edges there is a keen intelligence and a basic decency about him. He is a force, not just in Gertie's, but in Bluefin. As a young man he was captain of the football team and pretty much the up and coming star. But his swagger never carried much beyond the town limits. Nonetheless, at age 58, he still holds sway, and as president of the National Foundation of Watermen, is till very much the leader of the pack around these parts. He holds court in Gertie's just about every night.
Birdie Tibbets is the wry old sage of Gertie's. At 65 plus, Birdie interjects his wisdom sparingly, but with confident finality. He is a wiry old fella with a twinkle in his eye as he is both witness and participant in the heated debates about what the future holds for a life on the water and what will be the watermen's fate.
Wayne Mabley is either just this side or that side of 40 and can't seem to fend off having the air of a failed man. Perhaps he feels that the milestone of 40 has defined once and for all what previously could have been thought of as merely a worse case scenario. Whatever it is, he is a negative soul who engages in a nightly battle for his dignity in which his principle weapon is a belligerent bravado that never quite convinces.
Ace is the kind of unknowing fool you can only be when you're young. He knows that there's a lot that's not quite getting through to him, but he's cocky as hell anyway. And why not. He feels he can whip any man's ass in the bar...except Bear, maybe...and what the hell more does a strapping young waterman need to be happy? On top of that, he knows the secrets of sexual conquest and will be happy to enlighten you about it: "When their eyes roll back and their toes curl down you know you done your job."
Thus, the residents of the infamous "Gertie's Bar" nightly hash out their strategies and their rages about the ever increasing restrictions on their livelihoods and their way of life by government forces and private foundations. It is into this milieu that Peck Wilson enters on a cold winter's night when it's already 8 below zero and headed lower. Peck is real smart. Ivy league and all that. And as revealed earlier, he's a man on a mission. But it's not necessarily the mission he says it is. He seems totally self assured, and in large part he is. But he is vulnerable. And he knows it. He's vulnerable because, though he knows what he's become, and all the qualities he possesses to have become that person, he literally doesn't know whence he came. When he walks into Gertie's he is a good-looking, accomplished 36 year old professional and he knows it. Whether he walks out with the same swagger and intensity is very much up in the air. And he knows that too.
Oh, and by the way. "Gertie" the bar dog is dying and the ground outside is too frozen to bury her. So there are some other problems as well.
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