Our ace heroine

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One thing that makes the Mrs. Hawking series unique is that we not only have a queer protagonist, she is of a kind you very rarely see represented– our hero is an asexual aromantic, and it’s very important to the conception of her character.

A large part of her story is the difficulties she faces in maneuvering through a world that has no understanding of asexuality. The social expectations surrounding her provide constant challenge– the way she has no inclination toward romantic love, the stranglehold she found in the obligation of marriage, and not only the inability to reciprocate the Colonel’s feelings for her, but even to relate to them. She herself doesn’t have a word for it, only the sense that she is different from most others, and perhaps even beyond their understanding, even those who work hardest to grow closest to her.

While love and romance can be fun threads to explore, and our story deals with them in the form of Nathaniel’s marriage and Mary’s developing relationships, it also takes some of the emphasis on romance as the only kind of truly significant relationship. The most important connections in the story are unconventional and not easily defined– not as simple and clear cut as parent and child, or simply friends, but complicated by familial love, the bonds between teammates, and the relationship between mentor and protege. Mary’s role as Mrs. Hawking’s student makes the girl the most important person in her life, while Mrs. Hawking s not simply Nathaniel’s aunt, but an important figure of authority and approval whose validation he desperately craves. And while there is no romance between Mary and Nathaniel, the intense struggles they weather together make an unbreakable friendship between them.

I enjoy the chance to explore some of the more unexpected bonds that can form between people, and demonstrate that romances are not the only important connections in people’s lives. I think Mrs. Hawking’s asexuality helps not only represent a subgroup that is not often present in fiction, it helps redshift the focus to the wider spectrum of meaningful human relationships.

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.


“I Saw Three Ships” – a Mrs. Hawking holiday scene

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I don’t know where this came from. It’s a little seasonally-appropriate Hawking scene popped into my head tonight, and I scribbled it down in a few minutes just for amusement’s sake. It’s probably never going to fit into any of the plays, but it was an opportunity for some cute character moments, and one really fun line. It’s nice to see them just in a low-stakes character moment that’s purely fun and sweet, rather than all mired in drama.

It made me smile; I hope it does you too. 😁

“Three Ships”
From the Mrs. Hawking series
By Phoebe Roberts

MARY STONE, housemaid and apprentice society avenger
VICTORIA HAWKING, society avenger and her mentor
NATHANIEL HAWKING, her nephew and assistant

London, England – December, 1884

(MARY dusts in the parlor, humming the Christmas carol “I Saw Three Ships.” MRS. HAWKING enters to choose a book from the shelf, then exits. MARY begins softly singing.)

MARY: (singing) I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day. I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day in the morning.

(She glances after MRS. HAWKING to make sure she’s gone. Then she goes and gets a flour sack containing a garland of evergreen with holly berries. She holds it up and dances around with it a little, singing louder now.)

MARY: (singing) Wither sailed those ships all three, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day? Wither sailed those ships all three, on Christmas Day in the morning?

(She begins to string up the garland over the mantlepiece and along the parlor wall.)

MARY: (singing) And they sailed into Bethlehem, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day. And they sailed into Bethlehem,, on Christmas Day in the morning.

(She dances around the room.)

MARY: (singing) And all the bells on earth shall ring, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day. And all the bells on earth shall ring, on Christmas Day in the morning.

(She dips and twirls, singing at the top of her voice. Without her noticing, NATHANIEL enters, and he hangs back watching her with a smile on his face.)

MARY: (singing) Then let us all rejoice again, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day! Then let us all rejoice again on Christmas Day in the morning!

(As she belts out the last note, she spins around to see MRS. HAWKING reenter frowning. She crosses back to the bookshelf, glaring at MARY’s decorating as she goes. She snatches a book off the shelf.)

MRS. HAWKING: Bethlehem is landlocked.

(She exits. MARY turns sheepishly and sees NATHANIEL standing behind her, grinning. After a moment, he takes up the last verse and she joins him.)

BOTH: I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day! I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day in the morning!

(They break off together, doubled over into laughter.)

Gilded Cages and Mrs. Frost by Phoebe Robertsand Bernie Gabin will be performed at 7:30pm January 18th and 3:30pm January 19th respectively in the Grand Ballroom of the Park Plaza Hotel as part of Arisia 2019.


Winner of the Arisia 2017 membership raffle!

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Circe Rowan (Mary Stone) and Cari Keebaugh (Mrs. Hawking)

This December, we’ve been offering a chance to enter a raffle to win a two full weekend memberships to Arisia 2017. All you had to do was repost our show information page on social media with the hashtag #mrshawkingatarisia.

Today we’ve randomly drawn the winner! The recipient of our prize is:

Dave Maddaluno!

We’ll be in contact today, but feel free to reach out about how you’d like us to transfer the memberships. Thank you so much to everyone who entered!


Can’t wait to see you at our shows!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.


Hawking Arisia membership raffle 2017

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Want to catch our shows at Arisia 2016, but the cost of membership is a little too high for you? Well, here’s your chance to win two full weekend memberships for FREE in Mrs. Hawking’s Arisia membership raffle!


For the next two weeks, we are raffling off not one but TWO passes to the Arisia 2017 convention! This will give you complete access to all hours and events of the con in the Westin Waterfront Boston hotel January 13th through 16th.

To enter:

– Share the show information page or our 2017 poster on social media— Facebook, Twitter, Gogle+, Instagram
– Tag us in the post! You can use @mrshawkingweb for Twitter and Instagram, or tag our Facebook page, or use the hashtag #mrshawkingatarisia
– Each share across the platforms counts as one entry
– Share across as many platforms as you like for additional entries

Entries will close on Wednesday, December 21st at 12AM. A winner will be drawn at random and announced at 12PM on the 21st. The selected person will provide us with their contact information so that we can transfer the Arisia memberships into whatever names they choose. We shall be pleased to have you as our guests at our performances!

Happy sharing!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.


Show times at Arisia 2017!

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We are officially on the schedule at Arisia 2017!


By Phoebe Roberts

Friday, January 13th at 7:30PM


Saturday, January 14th at 4PM
Sunday, January 15th at 12PM

In Grand Ballroom B

At the Westin Boston Waterfront
425 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210

Please come join as at Arisia 2017 this January and come see our shows, including the debut performance of Base Instruments!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.


Vivat Regina and Base Instruments at Arisia 2017

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MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Arisia 2017 Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention

presented by The Chameleon’s Dish Theatre

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts
Friday, January 13th at 7:30PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts
Saturday, January 14th at 4PM
Sunday, January 15th at 12PM


In Grand Ballroom B

January 13th – 17th
in the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel
at 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA


“True Gentleman” – a scene of Nathaniel and Clara in back story

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I have a pretty good idea of the shape of the Hawking stories to come, most of which will be about exploring how our heroes grow and develop into the future of their team. Every now and then, though, I find myself imaging how things went in their back stories, moments that probably won’t feature in the plays but helped shaped the characters that we know them as today.

This scene written during my completion of 31 Plays in 31 Days 2016 deals with an idea I’m surprised I’ve never noodled with before. One little character bit in the Hawking stories that I enjoy is the fact that Clara and Nathaniel met through Nathaniel’s older brother Justin, because Clara dated Justin before she and Nathaniel got together. Their mild romantic history is alluded to in Base Instruments; it was Bernie’s idea and he pushed to include it. Basically, as they are the same age (three years older than Nathaniel) they came out in the same year, and so met while attending the same parties. They courted for a little while, until Clara got fed up with his interest in other girls and broke it off. She and Nathaniel got together gradually after that.


This little scene is from five or so years before the first Mrs. Hawking play, and depicts how their relationship began to change into something that would lead to falling in love, getting married, and having a couple of babies.

“True Gentleman”
By Phoebe Roberts

NATHANIEL HAWKING, a young gentleman, early twenties
CLARA PARTRIDGE, a lady his brother courted, mid twenties

London, England, 1875
(A twenty-three-year-old CLARA PARTRIDGE dashes in and paces, fuming with the beginnings of tears in her eyes. After her comes a twenty-year-old NATHANIEL HAWKING. Both are in evening wear.)

NATHANIEL: I say, Clara! Are you— are you all right?

CLARA: Why, Nathaniel! What are you doing here?

NATHANIEL: Pardon me, but I saw you dash out of the ballroom, and worried something might wrong. When Justin didn’t go after you, I thought someone ought to.

CLARA: Well! That’s very kind of you. Justin shan’t be following after me, not if he knows what’s good for him.

NATHANIEL: Whatever do you mean?

CLARA: I mean I don’t think I shall be seeing so very much of Justin anymore.

NATHANIEL: You mean— oh!

CLARA: Yes, well.

NATHANIEL: I— I’m quite sorry. He hasn’t— done anything ungentlemanly, has he?

CLARA: He’s Justin, isn’t he?

NATHANIEL: That prat. What’s he done?

CLARA: Oh, never you mind.

NATHANIEL: If he’s hurt you, miss—

CLARA: Oh, you know him! It’s only that he has a wandering eye. One grows weary of feeling like the plainest girl in the room.

NATHANIEL: Goodness, Clara, you could never be that!

CLARA: Oh, my.

NATHANIEL: I mean— forgive me, but— as you said, that’s his way. It’s no fault of yours that he’s an absolute rake.

CLARA: Perhaps not. But I’ve no patience for it any more.

NATHANIEL: Nor should you.

CLARA: I only hope I haven’t made a perfect fool of myself. Losing my calm with him and dashing out of the ballroom for everyone to see. Certainly I’ve ruined the last dance.

NATHANIEL: Not at all. I’m sure no one paid it any mind.

CLARA: You did. You had to run out here after to me.

NATHANIEL: Well— I hated the thought that you might be alone in your distress.

CLARA: Thank you for that. It’s quite kind.

NATHANIEL: Think nothing of it, miss. And, please… never think that my blasted brother’s conduct means you’re not beautiful. If I may say so… I don’t know how any man courting you could look away from you.

CLARA: Why, Nathaniel…

NATHANIEL: Oh, that was dreadfully impertinent. Now you think I’m just as much a rake as he is.

CLARA: Not at all. Quite the contrary… you are a true gentleman, Nathaniel Hawking.

NATHANIEL: It means a great deal that you’d think so. Is there anything else I can do?

CLARA: You’ve been a great comfort to me tonight. Indeed, I think I shall be presentable to return. You ought to go out and enjoy the rest of the ball. You’re shipping out soon for your tour of service, aren’t you?

NATHANIEL: If you can call it that. They’re sending me to Newcastle, of all places.

CLARA: Sounds as though you’re in for an adventure.

NATHANIEL: Indeed, fighting off boredom as I keep the logbooks.

CLARA: They’ll make a soldier of you yet. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I had best find a place to freshen up. I’d like to make my return more dignified than my exit.

NATHANIEL: Certainly, miss.

(He bows and turns to go. Just before he exits, he turns back around.)

NATHANIEL: Miss, since it will be so dreadfully dull away in the armory, it would be very cheering to hear a word from home now and again. When I have a moment, might I write you? Some letters might be just the way to pass the time.

CLARA: I would like that, Nathaniel.

(He smiles, then bows again and exits. She watches him go with a new interest.)

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.


The challenges of plotting Mrs. Hawking part 4

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Categories: development, gilded cages, Tags: , ,

Bernie and I have begun work on Mrs. Hawking part four, tentatively titled Gilded Cages, and we’re running into some challenges. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as we’ve had this happen with each subsequent installment, but this one has presented some difficulties that are thus far unique.


The biggest thing to deal with is the fact that we’re writing a colonial story. Part four is going to be split into a present day case in 1885, and a flashback story to Mrs. Hawking’s youth in the colonies. We haven’t decided WHICH colony, though, as we are still doing research to figure out if there are any historical features that would serve our turn. What I’d really like to display is that some terrible event that happened during Victoria’s childhood demonstrated to her how corrupt and broken the system is, which helped to shape her worldview in the present. A natural possibility is witnessing something of the horrors of Victorian colonialism. But I really don’t want to just turn the suffering of the local people to be just a lesson for my white hero, or make her into a white savior for those same. And I definitely don’t want to sidestep the issue and just end up tell a story set in a colony that’s only about the white invaders.

What I’ve got here is a Problem of the Protagonist, to use my own theory– when the need to centralize a particular character ends up objectifying or dehumanizing other characters. Because my hero is white, it runs the risk of turning any characters I include of the local people into objects who exist only to facilitate my protagonist’s story. And I definitely do not want to do that with characters of color.

I’m going to put in the work on this. I’ve got a lot of researching and developing to do yet. But I do know a good way to keep a character human is to give them their own arc, demonstrating that their story is one worth following, and affording them agency in the story, making them take actions in the service of achieving their goals and needs. So, while I’m by no means certain yet, my current idea I’m exploring involves having a local character whose personal mission is the central arc of the flashback’s story. This character, who’d probably be female, could have the protagonistic qualities of wanting something, taking actions to pursue it, and driving the plot with their efforts. Perhaps if she drives the story, and other characters are in the position of being reactive to that, I can avoid making any such person being subservient to Victoria’s development.

I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to do more work. But I’m resolved to figure out how to do this in a respectful, conscientious way.

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.


THE BALLROOM SCENE: Arisia production showcase party 11/5

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Ever notice how every Mrs. Hawking show has a scene at a ball? Well, here’s your invitation to the party— and we hope you’ll dress the part!

This November, the team behind the Mrs. Hawking play series is putting on a showcase gala to whet your appetite for our upcoming productions!


Mrs. Hawking Part 2: Vivat Regina and Part 3: Base Instruments will be performed as part of the Arisia 2017 convention in downtown Boston this January. Before we go up, we’d like to invite you to this free promotional event to eat, dance, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how these stories come together. We’ll even show you a few scenes from the performances to give you an early glimpse at our shows.

There will be fall foods served buffet style. All guests will be given a ticket for a free raffle of door prizes, including a weekend membership to Arisia 2017. We welcome you to come in steampunk costume, and have your picture taken by a photographer to be posted to our Facebook page. Entrance is FREE, but donations toward the show are gladly accepted.


So put on your finest evening attire and join us at this free event to promote and celebrate our Mrs. Hawking productions, Part 2: Vivat Regina and Part 3: Base Instruments, at Arisia 2017!

Saturday, November 5th
8pm-11pm at the Democracy Center at 45 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA

– Food and beverages
– Music
– Door prizes in a free raffle
– Displays of the specially designed properties from the shows
– Sneak peeks into behind the scenes info
– Scenes from our Arisia 2017 shows

More info to come, but mark your calendars now and RSVP on the Facebook event!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.


Cast lists for Vivat Regina and Base Instruments at Arisia 2017!

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Categories: base instruments, performance, vivat regina, Tags: ,

We have finalized our casts for our shows at Arisia 2017, Mrs. Hawking parts 2 and 3, Vivat Regina and Base Instruments!


Vivat Regina by Phoebe Roberts

Mrs. Victoria Hawking: Cari Keebaugh
Miss Mary Stone: Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking: Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Johanna Braun: Joye Thaller
Mrs. Clara Hawking: Sara Smith
Officer Arthur Swann: Matthew Kamm
Frau Kirsten Gerhard: Kitty Drexel
Herr Christoph Austerlitz: Andrew Prentice
Ensemble: Sara Dion, Travis Ellis

Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts

Mrs. Victoria Hawking: Cari Keebaugh
Miss Mary Stone: Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking: Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Clara Hawking: Sara Smith
Sergeant Arthur Swann: Matthew Kamm
Mr. Justin Hawking: Eric Cheung
Miss Elena Zakharova: Arielle Kaplan
Henry Cavil, Lord Seacourse: Andrew Prentice
Mr. Kyril Chernovsky: Isaiah Plovnick
Miss Yulia Sherba: Ava Maag
Ensemble: Sara Dion, Travis Ellis

And of course, our amazing crew:

Technical Director, Set Designer: Bernie Gabin
Costume Designer, Wardrobe Mistress: Jennifer Giorno
Violence Designer: Arielle Kaplan
Additional Sound Design: Neil Marsh

As always, I am honored when collaborators have a good enough time working with us that they want to come back, and we have a large number of actors who are gracing us with their talents again. It’s so great to have the chance to watch them build their performances over multiple arcs, and she how they interpret that character’s continuing journey.

I’m also really excited about our new collaborators! As I’ve mentioned, my longtime friend and theater partner Frances Kimpel has moved on, but I’m delighted to welcome Cari Keebaugh to the role. Additionally, a fellow committee member from the Watch City Steampunk Festival, Isaiah Plovnick, will be taking on his first role with us.

It’s a wonderful group, and I can’t wait to see how they continue the Mrs. Hawking story as an ensemble.

But in addition to this cast, we’re looking for a few additional crew members. If anyone is interested in being our stage manager, we could very much use the help. We wouldn’t need you for every rehearsal, and though it would be great to start having you when the actors get off-book, but the only time absolutely necessary is tech week and the shows, starting January 8th going through Arisia weekend, the 13th through 15th. There is a small stipend available, plus free admission to the Arisia convention. If you’re interested in joining Team Hawking, send us an email at!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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