#WIPpet Wednesday Number 1 Voices of the Chester

I apologize for my absence from this blog. It has been a busy time at work and home. Last week I got the opportunity to perform my newspaper-based play “Things Are Changing” with my spouse for a National Youth Summit Woman’s Suffrage. We’re also rehearsing for my newest piece of museum theatre, Voices of the Chester. This unique experience will lead guests all around the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum and share the stories of the people who lived there, worked there, and stayed there during the building’s long history. (FYI, the building has been standing since the late 1700s.)

It’s my first time doing a play like this, and I’m excited about the possibilities. I also have a stellar cast that is working so hard to bring my vision to life. I’ve included an excerpt from one of the stories below.

This week (5/29/2019) I’m 29 sentences from the story of Sarah Roberts, an orphan who was bound to Dr. Chester to work at the Chester Inn. She was bound along with her brother James Roberts. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about her story, except that she was bound to Dr. Chester until she reached the age of 18. After that, she disappears form the written, historic record, but I based her story on what I knew of the building and town at that time.

Sweeping, that’s all I do, and make beds. Mornings come early, most days before first light. The mattress is small, especially now that James is all legs and arms. It’s safe, though, and warm enough, so I don’t complain too often, except when I wake up with a foot in my face. First thing I do is get dressed and then check the fires in the rooms, make sure they’re still alight. Once the guests begin to stir, James and I tend to the chamber pots. It’s our job to empty them and scrub them, put them back under beds.

Dr. Chester’s place has five bedrooms. There’s a great big chimney on either end and a small front porch that always needs sweeping. There are lots of houses in town, James says nearly 30, and there are more being built every day. All the people and the horses are always kicking up dust.

The days are full of tasks, from helping with the cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, to washing linens, to mending clothes, to tending to the horses, and always, always sweeping the porch and the main stairs. Days when court is in session are the busiest. There’s people coming and going, in and out, with their dusty, dusty boots. Some days I think I should just sew the broom to my hand.

Sometimes we help Dr. Chester in his apothecary shop. When we’re down there, he’ll read the bottles to James, teach him his letters. I know my letters, too, but James gets more time with it. A family came to call the last time we were working. They needed some medicine for their sick daughter. I could tell they loved her; by the way they were talking about her. James says it doesn’t do us any good to remember our parents. Maybe he can’t remember them. I remember, a little. I remember someone loved me, and she was warm and soft. They loved us enough to give us names, Sarah and James Roberts. That has to mean something.

I know I should be grateful for what I have, and I am. We’re not out in the streets.

Voices of the Chester will be performed on June 14-16.

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*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that. 

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