Gunpowder Joe: Joseph Priestley, Pennsylvania, and the American Experiment
This January, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) presents Gunpowder Joe: Joseph Priestley, Pennsylvania, and the American Experiment directed by Ensemble Member Laurie McCants. The Friends of Joseph Priestley House are one of the play’s sponsors. Gunpowder Joe will play January 19th through February 5th, with evening performances as well as Project Discovery Student Matinees.
Gunpowder Joe is a world-premiere play by award-winning playwright Anthony Clarvoe, commissioned by and created with the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, about Joseph Priestley, celebrated scientist, radical religious leader, and fierce defender of the American Revolution, who, after making himself the most hated man in England, spent his last years in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.
According to director and BTE Ensemble Member Laurie McCants, Pennsylvanians should be interested in Priestley because of his connection to our area and his place in history. “As a scientist, Priestley is still world-famous, known as the “discoverer” of oxygen. He was also considered a “very dangerous man” in his native England because he was a political radical, a religious dissenter, and fervent supporter of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson said that many of the phrases he wrote in the Declaration of Independence were borrowed from Priestley.” Priestley ended up in Northumberland by chance. “After a drunken mob hired by his enemies had burned down his house and laboratory in England, Priestley chose Northumberland as his home in exile. Still vigorous but elderly, he imagined living out the rest of his years in quiet retirement on the bank of the Susquehanna, continuing his chemistry experiments and religious studies.”
Anthony Clarvoe has had three plays produced by BTE: Ambition Facing West, The Deer Hunter’s Bible, and Let’s Play Two. He has received American Theatre Critics, Will Glickman, Bay Area Theatre Critics, LA Drama Critics, Garland, Elliot Norton, and Edgerton New American Play awards; fellowships from the Guggenheim, Irvine, Jerome, and McKnight Foundations, National Endowment for the Arts, TCG/Pew Charitable Trusts, and Kennedy Center. Anthony teaches at UC Berkeley, St. Mary’s College, and Stagebridge. A native San Franciscan and long-time resident of New York City and the Midwest, he lives with his family in Berkeley, CA.
PUBLIC PERFORMANCES are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30PM and Sundays at 3:00PM, January 19th through February 5th. BTE’s traditional “Pay What You Wish” Preview performances are January 19th and 20th at 7:30PM (doors open at 6:30pm, no reservations) and the “Pay What You Decide” Opening Night Performance is Saturday, January 21st at 7:30PM. A symposium with the playwright and cast will be held on Sunday, January 22 after the 3:00pm performance.
Reserve tickets online at www.bte.org or at 570-784-8181.
Gunpowder Joe is sponsored by The Friends of Joseph Priestley House, The Degenstein Foundation, Bucknell University, Penn State University, and BTE’s Season 39 Sponsors WNEP, WHLM, Seven Mountains Media, Press Enterprise, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.