blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
DAN O’BRIEN | The House in Hydesville

Introduction & Table of Contents

Full Plate Collection


Cast & Crew
Playwright’s Notes
Director’s Notes
Dramaturg’s Commentary
How is History Made?
The Rapping
from Act 1, The House in Hydesville


A ghostly retelling of true events, The House in Hydesville comes to Blackbird from playwright and longtime Blackbird contributor Dan O’Brien.

Set in 1848, the historical drama revolves around Cathie and Maggie Fox, two young sisters who would become famous Spiritualist mediums. O’Brien looks back to the origins of their fame—their family’s time living in a cramped, haunted house in Hydesville, New York. Long known as a home for transients by the time of their occupancy, the house carries with it the legend of a murdered peddler. After moving in, the girls discover that they may be able to communicate with his spirit.

The House in Hydesville was commissioned by Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York, and had its world premiere there in 2009. Of the full-length play, Blackbird presents the first two scenes from Act 1, titled The Rapping. Accompanying the excerpt are notes from O’Brien and director Skip Greer, as well as other materials from the Geva production.

Dan O’Brien’s playwright’s note, “On Family Dysfunction and the Occult,” describes the emergence of his process and orients the excerpt within the larger plot. Director Skip Greer discusses the play’s themes, as well as aspects of its production, in his director’s note, “Purposeful Ambiguity.” In “How is History Made?” reprinted here from the original Geva playbill, dramaturg Marge Betley provides a broader sense of the Spiritualist movement in nineteenth-century Rochester.

All photos included in the presentation are from the Geva production and feature members of the cast listed on the Cast & Crew page.

Blackbird would like to thank Dan O’Brien, Marge Betley, and Skip Greer for generously providing text and materials related to the Geva Theatre Center Production.  bug

   Contributor’s notes

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