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The Lisping of A Muse

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Sun, June 9, 2024 @ 4pm


General Admission: $15 advance, $20 at the door, and $5 for students



The Lisping of a Muse

The Literary & Dramatic Writing Career of John Howard Payne -

Thespian, Poet, Playwright, Theater Critic, Librettist, Producer, Publisher, Consular Official and Man of Letters 1791 - 1852

A Staged Concert Reading
by Hugh R. King

Join Hugh King, East Hampton’s Town Crier and his band of local players as they stage readings from John Howard Payne’s most important works including two theatrical pieces, Brutus or the Fall of Tarquin - a historical tragedy that held the stage for over 50 years; and Clari, the Maid of Milan which introduced the song Home, Sweet Home.

The program will also feature poems written by Payne in his younger years; theatrical critiques from Payne’s newspaper The Thespian Mirror - the first newspaper in New York City devoted entirely to the theater; love letters between Payne and Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein; Payne’s recollections of his time with the Cherokee Nation; and personal letters from Payne to his sister and various citizens of East Hampton.

John Howard Payne was a person of vast experience and of varied undertakings and achievements. He was an actor, playwright, minor poet, newspaper editor, publisher and critic as well as a United States consular official. He championed the rights of Indigenous peoples and fought for the establishment of copyright laws; and he was a gifted director and producer in the world of the theater. He was probably the first American actor to portray Hamlet, and the earliest American playwright to have his works produced abroad.

John Howard Payne insisted on accurate period costumes for performers, and included extensive scenery and costume design for his plays. He wrote more than 60 different pieces for the theater including tragedies, comedies, farces and operettas - and his work was produced in both Europe and America for nearly half a century. He also wrote the lyrics to arguably one of the world’s most famous songs: “Home, Sweet Home.”

June 9, 2024 marks the 233rd birthday of John Howard Payne. The legend began in the late 19th century that John Howard Payne was born in a house in East Hampton where his father was a teacher. While untrue, there is a building in East Hampton Village called Home Sweet Home in his memory.

The Cast

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