“Cursetown,” an upcoming play written by Mt. Vernon Street resident David Beardsley that hits the stage next summer, will explore Boston’s deep-seated love for the Red Sox and baseball, as well as the city’s fraught history of racial tension, unfolding over the course of three decades.
“I really wanted to write a Boston play and something that explores what I love about the city and what sometimes disappoints me about the city,” said Beardsley.
Each key scene in “Cursed” centers around a pivotal moment in Red Sox history, he said, beginning with Game 6 of 1975 Boston-Cincinnati World Series, when William, a community-minded black law student, has a heated exchange with Fitzy, a bigoted white man from Southie, in a Boston bar.
“It’s mostly a white clientele, and William’s in unfamiliar territory, and somewhere where he’s not necessarily comfortable,” Beardsley said of the unnamed establishment.
But after this awkward first encounter, William and Fitzy develop a “genuine friendship,” added Beardsley, as Boston, as well as society in general, struggles with “systemic racism and inequity.”
“Baseball serves as a common ground,” said Beardsley. “Both guys really loves the game, and it allows them to set their differences aside and form a genuine friendship.”
The two men meet again three years later when Bucky Dent’s three-run home run over Fenway Park’s left field helped the Yankees clinch a 5-4 victory over the Sox in the 1978 American League East tie-breaker game.
They subsequently unite in 1986 when the Red Sox fell to the New York Mets in the World Series that year, due in part to the infamous ‘between the legs’ blunder by Boston’s Bill Buckner in Game 6.
William and Fitzy meet up later in 1999 as Sox legend Ted Williams is honored during the All-Star Game at Fenway Park, and again in 2003 when Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning gives the New York Yankees a 6-5 triumph over the Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
“Cursetown” concludes with two men celebrating the Sox’s 2004 World Series sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-0.
None of the play actually takes place inside Fenway Park, however, said Beardsley, but instead at other locations around Boston.
Beardsley began working on “Cursed,” along with several other projects about a year ago. But he fully committed himself to writing it when he learned that Moonbox Productions, a nonprofit based in Cambridge’s Harvard Square that supports local arts and local artists, had issued a Call for Proposals for new plays.
“Cursetown” was eventually selected as one of nine plays to be featured in Moonbox Productions’ first annual Boston New Works Festival, set to take place June 24-26, 2022, at the Boston Center for the Arts.
Artistic Director Sharman Altshuler, who founded Moonbox Productions (www.moonbox.org) in 2011, said in a press release: “New works have been on Moonbox’s short list forever, but it wasn’t until COVID – with all of its undeniably disastrous ramifications – that we suddenly found ourselves with the time and space to finally dive in. We have always sought to staff and cast our shows exclusively from the local Boston community, and to be able to extend that commitment now to the support and showcasing of local playwrights and theater-creators is deeply exciting and gratifying. The Boston area is teeming with creative talent, and an annual Festival will create a fun, accessible, welcoming, and exciting event that all communities in the Greater Boston area and beyond can participate in and enjoy together.”
Meanwhile, Beardsley, who has also penned two other full-length plays, “Holy and Unruly” (Finalist, Ashland New Plays Festival; Semifinalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival), and “Tiny Empty Nest,” said: “I’m writing a story, but I don’t necessarily have all the live experience to tell it well. So I really liked the idea of collaborating with the theatre and specifically asked to work with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) theatre professionals because I want it to be a genuine and authentic story.”
Beardsley plans to rewrite “Cursetown” this summer, before it gets a table read in August or September. Depending on how that goes, he said he’ll continue to rework the play. A workshop will follow, he added, as will more rewrites. The final production of “Cursetown” is then scheduled for next June.
“I have three sort of rewrite opportunities leading up to the final presentation of then play, and then I hope it’s ready to go,” said Beardsley, who is also a member of the Playwrights’ Collective at New World Theatre in Londonderry, N.H., and Write On! (CentaStage, Boston), as well as of The Dramatists Guild of America. He also serves on the Board of Playwrights’ Platform, a collaborative for Boston-area playwrights.
Beardsley, who also formerly served as executive director of Hill House, describes himself as a lifelong baseball fan who grew up playing the game and rooting for the Sox, so, he said, “reliving some moments, as painful as they were, has been a lot of fun.”
He watched key moments of the featured games on YouTube and came up with his own play-by-play accounts of the games, since he couldn’t just transcribe the original commentary due to copyright restrictions.
Writing this play, he said, has also given Beardsley the “opportunity to also explore racism, especially at this time in our society when we’re facing a reckoning.”
“That has been really meaningful,” he added.
As for affording him the chance to bring “Cursetown” to the stage, Beardsley extends his heartfelt gratitude to Moonbox Production, as well as to Altshuler.
“I want to express my gratitude to Moonbox Productions for not only including me,” Beardsley said, “but also for working with local writers and producing new work by local playwrights.”