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An Education in Prudence - How it all started aka How I met Beth Pt.1

Get to know how OTP's An Education in Prudence came to be with this 3 part blog series from Playwright, Stefan Lanfer.

In March, 2013, I was at a work event at the Barr Foundation – when a complete stranger crossed the crowded room, making a beeline for me. “

“Hi, I’m Beth,” she said, “I hear you’re a playwright.”

“I am,” I said. “How can I help?”

“There’s this story,” she said, “that has gripped me since grad school. I’ve always imagined it on stage. Can we talk?”

“OK,” I said.

I might not have given the interaction much more thought. But Beth, I would soon discover, is the type to follow through. So, some weeks later, at the Flat Back Coffee Company on Broad Street, we met again.

Beth Miller - Historian, Inspiration

Over lattes I launched into the advice-giving I had the impression she was looking for. I suggested books she might find useful, and shared ideas on how to go about writing a play. Beth politely listened. She asked questions. She took notes.

But, when finally I stopped talking, she made it clear she had no pretensions as a playwright herself, but was only looking for one, who might get as excited about this story as she was.

“Oh,” I said, embarrassed. “Would you tell it to me?”

And then I listened, took notes, and asked questions, as she recounted the story she’d first chronicled in her masters thesis, “Prudence Crandall: Challenging Race and Gender Boundaries in Antebellum America.

Canterbury School for Girls circa 1820's & Portrait of Prudence Crandall

Soon, I was lost in this and other books Beth pointed me to. And, boy did I fall for this story.

And here we are, almost five years later, anticipating a world premiere by Open Theatre Project.

How Beth found me, and why she trusted me with this story, I don’t know. I am so very glad she did.

Up next in this 3 part series, PT. 2 - How Prudence Broke Through coming later this week...

Don't forget to get your TICKETS NOW for OTP's An Education in Prudence - February 9-24 at St. John's Church, Jamaica Plain

#AnEducationinPrudence #OpenTheatreProject #StefanLanfer #JamaicaPlain #NewPlays #OTPSeries4


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