‘The Abolitionist’s Refrain,’ Based on Poet Whittier’s Life, Debuts in June in Haverhill and Amesbury

Haverhill native Michael Cormier. (Courtesy photograph.)

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Playwright Michael Cormier examines the power of words in “The Abolitionist’s Refrain” a new play about John Greenleaf Whittier, poet and abolitionist.

Punctuate4 Productions debuts two scenes from the new work on Saturday, June 12, at the Whittier Home in Amesbury, and Sunday, June 13, at Haverhill’s Whittier Birthplace, both at 3 p.m. Cormier is a Haverhill native and known as co-author of “Saltonstall’s Trial.”

“As a historical figure, Whittier was always of particular interest, not only because I grew up in Haverhill, but because I’m descended from the Greenleafs,” said Cormier. “Like most people, I enjoyed his ‘pastoral’ poetry long before I became aware of his involvement in the abolitionist movement. Writing this play has given me the opportunity to learn more about the important role he played on the local and national stages, and how relevant the issues he grappled with remain today.”

Myriam Cyr, Punctuate4 Productions’ artistic director, said “‘The Abolitionist’s Refrain’ takes place as the Civil War ends. Whittier, who worked tirelessly for emancipation for decades, must now confront his own future and the future of a nation divided.”

Phil Thompson of Ipswich takes on the role of Whittier, while Boxford’s Dan Bruns portrays William Lloyd Garrison, Corey Roberts of Hopedale is returning Union soldier Lester Williams and Marissa Mason of Beverly portrays Whittier’s niece Elizabeth.

Underwritten by the Amesbury and Haverhill Cultural Councils, the programs are free and open to the public. The events take place outdoors and there are no rain dates.

To register for the Saturday, June 12, performance at Whittier Home, 86 Friend St., Amesbury, click here, or to see the Sunday, June 13, event at Whittier Birthplace, 305 Whittier Road, Haverhill, click here.

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