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Playwright Kate Hamill shares why she’s excited for The Scarlet Letter in 2024!

I always come at adaptation from a new play lens – that is, I treat it like a new play – a collaboration with the original author, as opposed to a reproduction. So when I started writing Scarlet Letter, I wanted to write a play that re-examines our country’s history of misogyny, fear of female sexuality, and fear of the “other.”

The play begins with an act of betrayal that’s so deep and so shocking, that the majority of the characters spend the whole rest of their lives dealing with its ramifications. And I think that’s incredibly important – to show a historically accurate depiction of something ‘unforgiveable.’ Our country has a really complicated relationship with forgiveness and absolution, and that dates all the way back to the Puritans. When people have done something wrong, they’re often regarded as irrevocably tainted in some way, and we don’t have a lot of paths to ‘redemption’. In this play, I’m often examining that cultural legacy… what do you do, when you’ve committed what you consider (or the society around you considers) an unforgivable act? And of course, I’m very interested in how that question relates to our own country’s complicated history. This is a story about the early days of America – but it’s also very much about us, here and now.

With all that said, I believe, very much, that in a serious story, you have to find the joy and the reason to fight forward – the ups as well as the downs. And I REALLY believe that theater should celebrate the specifically theatrical… that which can only be done on stage, as opposed to the comparative “naturalism” of film. I think you’ll find a LOT of surprises in this particular play and production. It’s irreverent, and parts of it are quite funny, and we aim for it to be very much a mixture of the light and the dark – the celebration and catharsis that can only happen in the theater, when we’re all in the room where it happens, together.

If you like or remember the novel, you’ll find elements you recognize – and if you have no relationship with the novel at all, you’ll find a story that engages you on its own. The play is – fortunately or unfortunately – quite timely.

The Scarlet Letter runs from February 3—25/ 2024.


Kate Hamill

Kate Hamill is an actor & playwright. Plays include Pride & Prejudice– Primary Stages / HVSF (originated role of Lizzy; nominee, Off-Broadway Alliance Award), Sense & Sensibilityat Bedlam (originated role of Marianne; winner, Off-Broadway Alliance Award; nominee, Drama League Award); Vanity Fair at the Pearl (originated Becky; nominee, Off-Broadway Alliance Award), Mansfield Park at Northlight,Little Women at Primary Stages & the Jungle, Dracula at Classic Stage Company, Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson, Apt. #2Bat KCRep,  Emma at the Guthrie, The Little Fellow (Or: the Queen of Tarts Tells All) at Cygnet Theatre. Other plays include Scrooge for Senate;The Piper (O’Neill Finalist, PlayPenn Fellowship),In the Mines(Sundance Finalist);The Odyssey, and The Light and The Dark. Her plays have been produced off-Broadway, atA.R.T., the Guthrie, Seattle Rep, The Alley, Folger, OSF, TrinityRep, Pittsburgh Public, Dorset Theatre Festival, Shakespeare Theatre of DC, Dallas Theater Center, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf, A.C.T., Actors Theater of Louisville, & manyothers. Upcoming in 2024: Emma at Denver Center, The Light and The Dark at Chautauqua Theater Company, and more to be announced. Kate has been one of the most-produced playwrights nationwide every season from 2017-current season. Wall Street Journal Playwright of the Year, 2017; Einhorn Award, 2023.