In 1994, over the course of four evenings, a poem came to me. To this day, I've no idea where it came from, or what the inspiration was. I'd never had any interest in lighthouses or seafaring before this, despite being raised in Boston, only four miles from the Atlantic. What I remember about this period is that the poem began coming to me while I was doing laundry, of all things. The poem was originally titled The Lady's Evensong, but was renamed after it took a dark turn. The poem can be found here in its entirety. About a week after I penned the poem, I realized that it didn't contain all the imagery or drama I had intended, so I decided to adapt it into a play.

The one-act play of The Gulls’ Lament can be found here in its entirety.

The one-act play took around forty calendar days to write. My daily schedule at the time consisted of getting up for work, jotting notes while riding on the MBTA, jotting more notes while eating lunch, and more on the commute home, then picking up dinner, and eating it at my desk while I transcribed the notes and typed the script into MS Word 4.0 on my Mac SE.

At one point, I was looking for one last element to symbolicly tie the show together, and was having one hell of a time with it. My good friend Rich Girardi suggested I get away from the script and we went to lunch in Harvard Square. As we crossed the busy intersection at Massachusetts Avenue and JFK Street, I had an epiphany and stopped dead in my tracks. Rich pulled me out of traffic while I shouted, "I’ve got it — It’s pickles! Pickles are the answer!" To which Rich replied, "What? You’re still hungry?"


I entered the play into the Boston Playwrights' Platform annual festival. I had already directed Doctor, a one-act by my high school drama coach and mentor, John O'Brien, the previous year, and was enjoying a fine relationship with the Platform. During the course of judging there was some confusion, and my script was lost. After the winners were selected, we discovered the oversight. Since the quality warranted it, I was offered a slot for a staged reading for The Gulls' Lament during the festival, which I gladly accepted.

I approached Rich Girardi to direct the show. Since I was the festival Technical Director that year, and Rich was the festival Stage Manager, we decided, for the benefit of the actors and audience, to expand the show into a full production, including a working lighthouse. Along with my sister Nancy, Kate Hopkins, Michael Pearlstein, and others, Marquis Productions was formed to produce the show. These folks were part of the same group who had aided me in mounting Doctor the previous year. Rich cast the show in the early spring, and rehearsals were held in his mother's basement until June. The set was constructed in my back yard in sections to be assembled later on stage — the working lighthouse was the largest set piece we had built to that point, and it took two trips in two vehicles to transport it to the theater. (Nancy operated the spotlight by hand backstage.)

Billed as “a gothic romance in one act” the show was performed in front of an appreciative audience on June 15, 1995.


My most vivd memory of the performance was of the crackling rock. We had constructed several cave rocks in the theater out of papier mâché on chicken wire. While painting them, they began crackling. At first I though the glue had been shrinking as it dried under the hot lights. Turning one of the rocks on its side, however, dislodged its resident — a stage mouse. It swiftly skittered to the main rag and shot up the twenty-five-foot curtain.

The actress playing the ghost — who didn't want her real name used and so went by the stage name of Vickie Waters — was deathly afraid of mice, yet the show required her to stand on top of one of the rocks throughout the performance. Rich and I made the executive decision to not tell her about the mouse. It had been evicted, and we would check the set piece again before the show. Everything would go off without a hitch. As the saying goes, however, of the best laid plans of mice and men — well, at least mice… In the middle of a very quiet scene, I heard the gentle crackling of the rock. And of all the rocks to crackle, it was the rock Vickie stood on, in her 1880's gown. In the shadow of the stage, I saw her peer subtly over the edge of her journal down at the rock. At that moment I was certain that the whole audince could hear the mouse, and that it would appear on the rock next to Vickie, and she would freak out.

As it turns out, none of that happened. The audience, upon questioning after the show, were so enrapt they never noticed the feasting rodent. Although Vickie knew exactly what was going on, she never lost her cool, and afterwards said that if the mouse had crawled up her dress, she would have killed us both, but she was glad we said nothing to her.


The original production of the show starred Vickie Waters, Judith Durkee, Kate Mahoney, and our good friend Robert Bonotto. Rich Girardi directed, Michael Pearlstein was Stage Manager, Nancy H. Triber was Assistant Stage Manager, Kate Hopkins was Costume Designer.

The show was later produced in 1997 at Cornell University's Gateway Theatre, directed by Sean Guarino. It starred Blakely Lord, Katherine Copic, Aimee DeGolyer, and Stefan Lawrence.


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