History Alive, Inc. is committed to the production of new plays and theatrical scenarios based on true stories from the past. Emphasis is given to interactive theatre so that actors and audience together, through a playful and dynamic way of engaging with history, might broaden their understanding of the present and gain a fresh sense of purpose within their own era. The company also seeks to invigorate the local economy by designing activities which connect the community and its visitors to a distinct, local history. Come play your part with us!
of Our Company
Formed to commemorate the tercentenary of the Salem Witch Trials, History Alive produced its first piece in 1992. Cry Innocent : the People vs. Bridget Bishop, an audience-interactive piece of theatre written by Mark Stevick, was created to be performed in downtown Salem. The company was formed by faculty and graduates of Gordon College in Wenham, MA including Professor Norman Jones, who became the company’s first artistic director, and David Goss, who served as the director of education. It was organized under the college’s non-profit umbrella as a recurring activity.
Cry Innocent proved to be a very popular way to experience the historic testimony and enter into the circumstances surrounding this dark period in the colony that would become America’s birthplace. The piece was soon performing to audiences—particularly school groups—who would come year after year, mostly to partake of the show in the city owned Old Town Hall, but Cry Innocent began to travel to regional schools as well.
Almost immediately after the company’s inception collaborations began with Pioneer Village in Salem, a three-acre recreation, the first living history museum built in America (1930), slightly outside of the downtown. The village hosted environmental performances of The Scarlet Letter, adapted Mark Stevick and Dr. Peter Stine. History Alive kept its downtown presence co-producing with Empire Theatre Co, a murder-mystery comedy, Goodnight, Captain White alongside the continuously running Cry Innocent and a new piece, Inspired, a one-man show about Nathaniel Hawthorne, written and performed by Norman Jones. During this time Professor Jeff Miller became the artistic director.
In the mid 2000’s, the third artistic director, Kristina Wacome Stevick, took the helm. History Alive began creating original, site-specific, material for the Pioneer Village including Folkways: A Day in the Life of the Early Colonists, Spiritways: A Night in Besieged Salem Village, From the Author To My Dear and Loving Husband (a play about Anne Bradstreet), Witch | Hunter (an environmental interactive quest based in 17th century worldview and material culture), and Travail (a survey of New England's medical history). In this period History Alive wrote original material for an onboard piece aboard the S.S. Kalmar Nyckel, about the founding of Salem, called Arbella 375th. History Alive also co-produced Salem's first "Fezziwig's Ball" with the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, and a pirate fair with Pastimes Entertainment called “Pillage the Village”. The company became involved in dozens of television projects at the village including work with American Experience, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and Frontline.
Since its inception in 1992, History Alive grew to be able to cover its expenses without college funds. It had also achieved a recognizable identity distinct from the college. As the theatre company evolved it became clear that it could do more efficient and relevant work by becoming independent, and tying itself closer to the Salem community. In the summer of 2014, History Alive became its own corporation. History Alive, Inc. was awarded its own federal non-profit status in 2015, and has been thriving since.
Founded by Roger Conant and a group of planters in 1626, on land belonging to the Naumkeag Indians, Salem began to attract large numbers of English immigrants during the “Great Migration” in the 17th century. Salem may be most widely known as the site of the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, but this seaside city boasts beautiful architecture, ancient graveyards, rich cultural sites, a dizzying number of festivals and civic events, an impressive array of restaurants, a diverse population and easy access to/from Boston by train, bus or ferry. There are a number of hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts, and Salem is easily navigated by foot, bike and trolley.
President & Artistic Director
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