Cast list for Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival ’15!

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We have assembled our cast list for the encore production of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham this May!


Mrs. Victoria Hawking – Frances Kimpel
Miss Mary Stone – Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking – Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Celeste Fairmont – Sarah Jenkins
Lord Cedric Brockton – Francis Hauert
Sir Walter Grainger – Jordan Greeley
Mr. John Colchester – Brian Dorfman
Miss Grace Monroe – Jennifer Giorno
Ensemble – Andrew Prentice, Morgan Ong


Director – Phoebe Roberts
Stage Manager – Eboracum Richter-Dahl
Technical Director – Bernie Gabin
Costume Designer – Jennifer Giorno
Sound Designer – Neil Marsh
Makeup Artist – Indigo Darling
Violence Designer – Arielle Kaplan

As you can see, it’s a mix of old and new hands from our previous production. While we are sorry to see so many of our talented original cast depart, I’m extremely excited to work with the fabulous new people we’ve found. I look forward to seeing what new and different dimensions they will bring out of the play, and the freshness that their personal intepretations will bring.

So be sure to join at the Watch City Steampunk Festival this May to see how things shape up!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.


TONIGHT Like a Loss staged reading with Bare Bones!

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Join us this evening for the staged reading of our ten-minute installment “Like a Loss” with Bare Bones!


Last night we had our dress rehearsal, where Eboracum Richter-Dahl and Brad Smith practiced their performance where faithful batman Henry Chapman tried to reach out to his longtime employer Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking in a difficult time.

I really love this piece because it is the most subtle of the Mrs. Hawking stories, being an exploration of people who must find ways to connect and express themselves without doing it overtly. It was an excellent challenge for me to rise to as a writer. And I love allowing the audience to have a glimpse of the Colonel, who we’ve heard so much about from other characters, and that many people have been wondering.

So please join us at 8pm tonight at Unity Somerville at 8 William Street, Somerville, MA. We will be opening for a reading of The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator.


REMINDERS – Auditions for Mrs. Hawking; Like a Loss staged reading

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Two reminders, dear Hawks! 


Auditions for the encore performance of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival are TONIGHT and TOMORROW NIGHT, March 23rd and 24th, at the Watertown Public Library from 7PM to 9PM. Signups are preferred, so e-mail us at to reserve a timeslot, but walk-ins are also welcome.



Also our staged reading of Like a Loss will be going up this Thursday night as part of Bare Bones 16: At War!

Like a Loss, the ten minute play featuring Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking, will be read as the opener for The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, at 8pm on March 26th at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA

“Faithful batman Henry Chapman does not often pry into the personal matters of his employer, the decorated Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking. But when some of his master’s burdens seem to grow too great, Chapman attempts to understand why Colonel Hawking has chosen to endure conditions as they are.

As those familiar with the Mrs. Hawking play series know, one of its most intriguing mysteries is the figure of the Colonel, the late husband of our hero about whom she still harbors so much resentment and complicated feeling. In this ten-minute play, set seventeen years before Mrs. Hawking and Mary ever meet, we at last get to meet this much-discussed man, and gain some insight into the nature of his strange, tragic marriage to our hero.”

Hope to see you are both or either of these!


Our performance space at the Watch City Steampunk Festival

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We now have a performance space settled for our production at the Watch City Steampunk Festival!


The Festival will be centered around Waltham Commons and the nearby blocks of Moody Street, which make up an important center of activity in town. Our shows will be going up at the Center for Digital Arts, the education institution at 274 Moody devoted to 3D animation, audio production, filmmaking, graphic design, photography, and web development. We will have use of the sizable back room, which is used for the development of all manner of visual art projects.


This space is very different than the one we performed in at Arisia 2015. Each one, due to its design, had its own advantages and disadvantages. Arisia takes place in the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, which meant we were given a function hall with a raised stage meant to be disassembled when not in use. The elevation above the audience was good for the sight lines, but made entrances and exits more difficult because of the need for the step up. Also, we were inflexibly limited by the dimensions of that stage, which at twelve by sixteen feet were pretty damn tight. Our fairly sizable set took up a chunk of that, meaning the action had to stay very compact, making the moments like the fight scene a challenge.

The CDA, first of all, has the distinct advantage for me of being in Waltham. That will make it so much easier and cheaper to transport pieces to the space, as it’s a much shorter trip from where I live. There we will be on a lovely wood floor the ability to spread out the “stage space” if we need to. This makes the blocking considerably easier, and we’ll still have plenty of room for audience chairs. The room will hold fewer people than the functional hall in the hotel, but not by too much, and this time around we’ll have two shows. Likely we’ll be able to seat even more people in total! I would love to have an even bigger audience this time around.

At Arisia, they also provided large curtains to create wing space on either side, which proved surprisingly ample. This time around, however, I’m not sure if our space will be able to provide anything like that. If that’s the case, we’ll have to figure out a way to get them ourselves. That could get expensive, and though many expenses of the last production won’t need to be repeated this time around, I’m concerned it will be made up by new costs like having to get curtains.

The trick, as always, is to embrace the features and limitations of any space you’re in. We’ve done it once, and we’ll do it again. Particularly since this space is lovely in so many ways, and will make many aspects of productions so much easier. I’m excited to take advantage of them!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.


Rehearsing “Like a Loss” for staged reading with Bare Bones

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This Sunday we had rehearsal for the staged reading of the ten-minute play Like a Loss at Bare Bones 16: At War. As I’ve mentioned, Like a Loss is unique in that it’s the only time up to this point in the story that the Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking ever actually appears onstage. I like the opportunity this gives for the audience to fill in certain blanks, to compare what they observe of the man themselves to the disparate viewpoints taken of him by other characters.


This piece stars the Colonel as well his longtime personal valet Henry Chapman, who in having served him for so many years through so many adventures has become his good friend. What makes the piece interesting is that it depicts a rare moment of emotional exploration between two gentlemen who do not often discuss such things under any context. They are Victorian gentlemen, of a culture that keeps these things to themselves. They are master and servant, and while closer than many, there is a level of formality and distance that makes such things off-limits. And finally, the Colonel is in the very delicate position of having pretty much every single person he’s close to in a total state of confusion as to why he married such a difficult, disagreeable woman. His family hates her, and Chapman thinks she’s unforgivably cruel to him; none of them see in her what the Colonel sees. Even among all the other factors, that in particular makes it so the Colonel has no one safe to talk to about what he’s currently struggling with. But Chapman cares about his master a great deal, and is taking this opportunity to try and address the pain that the Colonel is so clearly in.

This was a great opportunity for me as a writer, as it demanded effective use of subtext, which is always hard for me. It also presents a particular challenge to our actors, Brad Smith as the Colonel and Eboracum Richter-Dahl as Henry Chapman, his faithful batman and valet. They must convey to the audience just the depth and significance of the emotional moments while maintaining that superficial even keel. It was fascinating to watch them manage those moments, to bring levels that required a huge amount of nuance to read through their guarded, civil attitudes. Like Nathaniel, I always pictured the Colonel to maintain that particular variety of never-say-die British cheer, which is strongly at odds with the difficulty he’s going through in this piece– and Chapman is seeing right through it while politely pretending he isn’t. Brad and Eboracum did a beautiful job illustrating what is actually an extremely tragic story, that of a man who loved of a woman who utterly lacked the capacity to love him back, and of how completely without meaning to they ended up ruining each other’s lives.

The moment depicted in this particular piece alludes to lots of story we’ve yet to see. One thing we do know for sure is that the marriage of Colonel and Mrs. Hawking was extremely fraught. But there’s a great deal of lead-up before it reaches the state it was in when the Colonel died, one year before “Mrs. Hawking” opens. This piece hits at some of those stages it passed through, how they may not always have been as completely at odds as they ended up, how their conflict evolved from friendly opposition to directionless anger and ultimately to the chilly distance that was the final straw in breaking Reginald’s heart.

Someday we’ll tell that whole story. In fact, I’d like to detail the journey of how Victoria and Reginald met and married in what I’m planning to be the fourth full-length installment, after the upcoming Base Instruments. But for now, we only get a glimpse at another point in that timeline, here right after a major downward turn, in the the tragedy of the man who had the terrible misfortune to fall in love with our distant, damaged hero.

Come join us for our one-night only performance as the opener of Bare Bones 16: At War for piece, The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8pm at Unity Somerville, at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA.


Mrs. Hawking has no code name

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At its most basic, Mrs. Hawking is a superhero story— an extraordinary individual who uses their abilities to make the world a more just place. The clear influence that the character of Batman has had on the conception of our hero helped solidify that. So I’ve taken a lot of cues from the superhero genre to figure out how to tell these stories. But because of this square grounding in such an established form, one way in which we deviate from it stands out as particularly strange. Like many superheroes, Mrs. Hawking has a secret identity, that of reclusive society widow. She does not, however, have a name for her hero identity, a code name by which her heroic actions are known, of the likes of Batman for Bruce Wayne and Captain America for Steve Rogers. 

I supposed it might be regarded as an oversight on my part. Admittedly, in the very, very earliest imaginings she was a little more of a straight detective than a superhero, so even though that quickly changed, that may have been the reason why it never occurred to me to give her a code name. But by the time I noticed the problem, I’d already written two stories, and by that point, I really didn’t feel like it could be retrofitted. Making it tougher for me is that, while in-universe she really doesn’t feel like the name Victoria Hawking represents her, out-of-universe I chose it super-carefully specifically BECAUSE I felt like it suits her so well. What could I choose that would fit her better?

So, I have come to the conclusion that she doesn’t really have one. But it IS a strange omission for a story of this genre, so does that have any difficult consequences on the unfolding? Does that mean that the only people who are aware of her are the ones that know her real name? She does operate a great deal on the fact that she seems too outlandish to most people to actually exist, but we know from moments like her conversation with Sir Walter in the first story that occasionally she deals with people from behind the anonymity afforded by her stealth suit. So how would people who realize there is such a masked figure in existence, but didn’t know her personally, refer to her? 

I tend to subscribe to the theory that you can’t name yourself in this way. It usually feels more organic— and let’s face it, less absurd —when the hero’s code name is chosen by popular habit. So there’s probably something they call her just for the convenience of having some way to talk about her. This actually becomes necessary to have an answer for as I work on installment three, Base Instruments it occurred to me that Nathaniel’s wife Clara is very socially connected and well-informed when it comes to the goings on of London’s ladies, and may very well have heard of this secret agent that helps women who have nowhere else to turn. I haven’t precisely settled, but I tend to think that they don’t have a name that could be considered a “Batman” equivalent, nothing so formal and declarative. But there may be some sort of title along the lines of “the Dark Knight” for her, perhaps even something like “the lady’s champion of London,” a phrase which has yet to be mentioned in-universe, but one I made up as a way to explain just what it is Mrs. Hawking does. 

There is one superhero name that does immediately jump out at me. While Mrs. Hawking’s dissocation with her married name makes it unlikely– not to mention too obvious –that she would use something about it to represent herself, it does become the clear progenitor for the name of the Hawks, the team that Mary eventually puts together to carry on her work. When she assembles a team of talented operatives to expand the reach of their work for justice, it will be Mary’s own interpretation of Mrs. Hawking’s missions. So, though I don’t think they will be completely insensible of the irony, they will consider themselves to be named in her honor. And I think that’s a fun twist on the convention of the superhero name.

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.


Encore performance of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival!

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It’s been in the works for quite a few weeks now, but I have received official confirmation! Mrs. Hawking will be seeing its next performance at the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival!


This Festival first happened in Waltham, Massachusetts in 2011, as a tribute to the city’s historical ties to the industrial revolution. This makes it the perfect venue to host a story like Mrs. Hawking’s, which embodies the steampunk sentiment in its action-adventure reinterpretation of the style and culture of the Victorian era. We’re so excited to present our show directly to fans of the genre, and we think it’s going to make an even bigger stir than it did at Arisia.

The Festival will be happening in and around Waltham Commons, spilling over onto Moody Street, and daytime admission will be free! It will be full of steampunk related events and exhibitions, including musical groups, dance shows, lectures, and craft demonstrations, in addition to our fabulous play. It’s also looking like we will have two performances over the course of the day, so you will have two free-of-charge opportunities to see us!

Most of our original cast will be returning, though sadly a few of our wonderful actors will not be joining us for this encore performance. We will be holding auditions for these roles, which include some major and some minor, on March 22nd and 23rd from 7PM to 9PM at the Watertown Public Library in the Raya Stern Trustees Room. If you are interested in auditioning, please send an email to to reserve your slot. Walk-ins are welcome, but we’d love to know you’re coming.

We’re hoping to top what we accomplished with our debut performance, in terms of audience reach and representation of our play. So if you’d love to help out in any way, your assistance is greatly appreciated. Here’s to the next step in the telling of the Mrs. Hawking story!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.


Auditions for Mrs. Hawking at Watch City Steampunk Festival ’15

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Would you like to be able to bring the characters of Mrs. Hawking to life? Well, come out to audition for our encore performance at the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival!

Mrs. Hawking debuted to success this past January at Arisia 2015, and will have an encore performance as part of the Festival in Waltham, MA on May 9th. We had an amazing cast, many of whom I am delighted to say will be reprising their roles, but sadly others among them are unavailable. That means we have a number of parts, both lead and supporting, that will have to be recast.

Auditions will be held at the Watertown Public Library in the Raya Sterns Trustees from 7-9PM on Monday, March 23rd and Tuesday, March 24th, by appointment. Walk-ins are welcome, but to guarantee your slot please send an email to with your headshot and resume to reserve a time.

The roles we shall be needing to replace:

Mary Stone – Twenties, maid girl who becomes assistant to a lady’s society avenger. Goes from quiet, dutiful servant to bold, courageous crusader for justice for otherwise helpless ladies of London society. Working class British accent.

Nathaniel Hawking – Twenties/thirties, charismatic and successful gentleman nephew. Starts out as an unwitting patriarchal obstacle, becomes an able support to his aunt’s heroic labors. Educated British accent.

Celeste Fairmont – Thirties/forties, well-bred middle class society lady with a secret. Takes refuge in imperiousness to conceal how thrown she is by the threat to her impeccable reputation. Educated British accent.

Walter Grainger – Twenties and up, country squire with a temper. Used to being able to bull his way through problems, but is at a loss at how to manage being blackmailed. Yorkshire/coarse country British accent.

John Colchester – Twenties and up, lower-class London thug. The classic scary henchman to the traditional Victorian baddie. Cockney/coarse lower class British accent.

Auditions will consist of reading sides from the script. Please come prepared to use an English accent.

Rehearsals will begin in April until the performance date on May 9th. A small honorarium will be paid to actors upon completion of the production.

Come on out and show us your talent! Help us tell this exciting story!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 247 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.


Tuxedos, fine ladies, and ruffians – more costuming for Mrs. Hawking

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Jennifer Giorno, our amazing costumer, put together such a gorgeous collection of looks for our production at Arisia 2015. Historical Victorian dress, particularly for men, was very strictly regimented, but we still wanted to balance that with creating a visually engaging stylization that spoke of our characters’ personalities as well as provide texture to the world they live in. In addition to our leads, Jenn assembled a beautiful collection of looks to round out our supporting cast. Many pieces came from our personal collections, while others were very generous loans from our friends Lise Fracalossi and Nicholas Magruder.


I particularly enjoyed the tuxedoed looks, mostly borrowed from our obliging friends. It’s a style of dress I’m a big fan of, but nowadays there’s so little occasion to ever see anyone wearing it. But we had a number of evening scenes full of high-class gentlemen, so that meant we had to get them right.


As you can see with these looks on Matthew Kamm, Francis Hauert, and Jonathan Plesser, we took a little bit of liberty in throwing in touches of color. This is where the vests generously lent to us by Lise Fracalossi came in. The red and black scheme was a nice visual cue as to Lord Brockton’s villainous nature, and the earth tones on Sir Walter spoke to his roots as a country squire. Nathaniel’s shades of gray and silver made him look sophisticated and stylish, which was how I always saw the character. The cravats were made by me, out of fabric specifically chosen to coordinate with the colors of the vests.


Nathaniel’s day look as worn by Jonathan Plesser was also nice. We wanted it to look noticeably different from the eveningwear, so we decided to cast it in gray, with a morning coat over a pinstripe vest. The silhouette is nicely differentiated from the cutaway tailcoats in the tuxedo ensembles. The burgundy cravat was an afterthought, but I liked how it tied Nathaniel into the dark red color scheme of Mrs. Hawking’s parlor. It at once says he’s of this place, which is both a cage and a safe place for our hero.


The other two male day looks were worn by Francis Hauert and Bobby Imperato as Lord Brockton and John Colchester respectively. They wore handmade frock coats, more borrowed pieces from the generous costume maker Lise Fracalossi, in various shades of gray. Lord Brockton also wore another vest, this time in black and gold, along with a gold silk necktie. And you can’t deny the iconic thug look of a Victorian baddie in a bowler.


Lastly, we have the ladies. On one hand, we have the high-class lady, Arielle Kaplan as Mrs. Celeste Fairmont, in a brightly colored blouse decorated with lace and a full satin skirt. On the other hand, we have the lower-class example, Jenn Giorno as Miss Grace Monroe, in a plain blouse, a navy twill skirt, and the only vest in the piece to be worn by a woman! I really love how these costumes contrast in color and in texture, drawing a strong visual distinction between the middle class lady and the working class girl. These pieces are from Jenn’s personal collection, informed by her vast knowledge of Victorian costuming conventions.

We were really lucky to have someone as hardworking and passionate as Jenn designing for our show. It increased the visual punch of every moment our actors were onstage.



Cast for “Like a Loss” staged reading at Bare Bones

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We have a cast for the reading of “Like a Loss,” the ten-minute play in the Hawking timeline!

“Like a Loss”
by Phoebe Roberts

Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking, hero of the Indian Rebellion: Brad Smith
Mr. Henry Chapman, his valet and batman: Eboracum Richter-Dahl

Both these talented people have been part of the telling of Mrs. Hawking’s story before. Brad you may remember from the Bare Bones reading of Mrs. Hawking, in which he played the villain Lord Cedric Brockton. He is an experienced actor onstage and in voice only, including in the Second Shift podcast and in the 2012 tour of the new musical 2010: Our Hideous Future. Eboracum served as the stage manager for the Arisia 2015 production of Mrs. Hawking, and is a founding member of The Chameleon’s Dish Theater as well as a longtime veteran of Brandeis’s Shakespeare troupe, Hold Thy Peace.

I’m super excited to work with them, and tell this bit of Mrs. Hawking history! Come join us for our one-night only performance as the opener of Bare Bones 16: At War for piece, The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8pm at Unity Somerville, at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA.

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