The Trial of Anne Huchinson
This stage play takes place in Boston in the year 1638 and tells the story of Anne Hutchinson, a nearly forgotten colonial
woman whose independence and spiritual insights were hundreds of years ahead of her time.
THE TRIAL OF ANNE HUTCHINSON Synopsis of a play by Theodore J. Nottingham This stage play takes place in Boston in the year 1638 and tells the story of Anne Hutchinson, a nearly forgotten colonial woman whose independence and spiritual insights were hundreds of years ahead of her time. Despite the historical distance, the themes of this drama are very contemporary: the abuse of a strong-willed, brilliant woman in a male- dominated society; the hypocrisy of power-hungry clergy; personal experience versus rigid dogma. The plot centers around the trial in which Anne Hutchinson is ultimately excommunicated and banished from the colony for her opinions. The essence of the dialogue in the trial scenes is taken from transcripts of the actual events. Our story opens after the tragedy has occured and takes us back to the main incidents which created this terrible irony: the pilgrims who have recently escaped religious persecution become in turn the persecutors in this "New Eden." We learn that Anne came to the New World in the footsteps of her spiritual mentor the famous Reverend John Cotton whose radical ideas had forced him the leave the comforts of England. Cotton, however, reveals his cowardice despite his high moral principles when faced with the conflicts created by Anne's fearless and uncompromising opinions. She is left alone to face her accusers. Only the memory of her father, who taught her to fight for her beliefs, sustains her as she is rejected by the community. Along with honoring a rare person in our history, this teleplay illustrates the struggle of women in our world and expresses the great hunger for spiritual experience and freedom from suffocating tradition which is so evident in our time.
Stage is dark. There is no set except for a large pulpit upstage left which will serve both as judge's bench and symbol of
Anne Hutchinson's oppressors. A powerful explosion of thunder breaks the silence, immediately followed by the sound
of heavy rain beating the ground relentlessly. A dim blue light fades up--the light of an errie full moon.
A silhouette stumbles out on stage. A man in a minister's black gown. He is in the throes of terrible grief and is soaking
wet from the rain.
The man falls to his knees and lets out a frightening, haunting cry of despair.
Anne! Anne, forgive me! Please forgive me!
(He covers his face with his hands.)
Lord have mercy on me. Have mercy on me.
(He weeps bitterly. Another silhouette enters stage right. A woman, MARY, dressed in a long, simple gown.)
How dare you?
(The man turns to Mary with a jolt.)
It's a little late, isn't it?
(The man rises to his knees.)
I'm sorry...I'm so sorry.