Hi, I’m Gene Bruskin, and I want to talk to you about a unique musical play I have written and am producing called The Moment Was Now that tells the story of a moment in history when America almost did the right thing. I wrote the script and lyrics and created the first cut of the music.
The play uses music, spoken word and drama to bring to light a little known ‘moment’ in 1869 during Reconstruction in post-civil war Baltimore at a turning point in US history. The story, based on extensive historical research, focuses on the impassioned search for unity among the dynamic leaders of progressive movements, at a fictional meeting called by Frederick Douglass.
‘MOMENT’ will open on September 13th for two weekends with matinees in an historic Baltimore church theater, the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, built in the 1850s.
The core of our team includes two talented artists, Darryl! Moch, the Artistic Director and Glenn Pearson, the musical director, who are tasked with bringing the play to life. Together they bring many years of music, theater and a commitment to social justice to this project. We are recruiting a skilled cast to help us enrich the characters, the story and the music.
But we can’t do it without the support of our friends and colleagues who believe in the power of theater to educate and motivate as well as to entertain.
Moment is theater for the 99%, intended for non-traditional theater audiences—unions, students, church groups, womens’ organizations and others who rarely go to mainstream theater. We are partnering with organizations representing these constituencies to fill the theater
One friend described ‘Moment’ as “Hamilton meets Bertolt Brecht.”
In 2016, after retiring from 40 years in the labor movement I took up an old love of play-writing and wrote and producted a musical for workers, “Pray for the Dead-A Musical Tale of Morgues, Moguls and Mutiny”. (www.prayforthedeadmusical.com) And now ‘Moment.’
The story and the characters
Most of the central characters in ‘Moment’ are largely unknown today. Aside from the legendary abolitionist and civil rights visionary Douglass, Susan B Anthony, is the most widely recognized figure. Anthony was an abolitionist and a suffragette and began organizing women workers in the late 1860’s.
Isaac Myers organized a union of African American ship yard workers (caulkers) in 1866 in the same Baltimore shipyard where Douglass worked when he escaped. Myers went on with Douglass to found the [Colored] National Labor Union. William Sylvis, an ironworker, organized the National Labor Union which represented several hundred thousand workers by 1869. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an abolitionist, African American Feminist, teacher, and author. Jay Gould, who lurks ominously in the background, was one of the early railroad kingpins who helped build the industrial revolution.
The fictional meeting takes place just prior to the 1869 National Labor Union Convention, encouraged by Douglass to overcome their differences and unite their movements to defend the progress of Reconstruction in the south and transform the war scarred nation. But the meeting doesn’t go smoothly as they confront the complex issues of race, class and sex in a musical and spoken word format.
The sweeping musical conclusion to the play imagines the powerful opportunities for change that were possible at that ‘moment’ and echoes to the challenges of our present ‘moment’.
What is next?
We’ve made great progress so far but we can’t move forward without your financial support. The messages we bring, and the audiences we seek, do not attract the usual foundations and individuals that invest in commercial theater. Although we will try to keep things simple, it costs a lot to do a musical right.
How will the money be spent?
· Paying the cast and crew fairly for extended rehearsals and performances, including the musicians, stage manager, technical team, costume designers, etc.
· Building the stage scenery and props
· Archival research for the historical visual projections that will highlight the action
We believe very strongly that social justice theater has an important role to play in supporting progressive movements in this country. I hope you will agree and give as generously as you can.
Spread the word to your friends on Facebook and beyond.
Find us on Facebook at: The Moment Was Now.
Thank you for your interest, your support, and your solidarity.
Let’s bring The Moment Was Now to our moment today.
It’s time for America to do the right thing