Since theater professor Geoffry Brown’s retirement in the mid 1990s, he has remained busy researching, writing, and performing monologues from the perspective of prominent historical figures, from America’s first playwright Royall Tyler to artist Jackson Pollack. Now he has made his full series of 120 dramatic monologues, titled “Quintessential Americans,” available free of charge for download and use by history and drama students.
“The first one I did was Teddy Roosevelt, in 1988—that toured around Vermont and got a good deal of publicity,” said Geoffry, who still lives in Marlboro and presents a weekly film night at the Marlboro Community Center. “The Trouble with Kiplingwas one I did downtown at Hooker Dunham Theater, as part of the Kipling centennial, in 1994—that one I liked.”
The launch of Geoffry’s website was a group effort, involving several alumni and friends. Brian Mooney ’90, Megan MacArthur Littlehales ’82, and Dan MacArthur (the latter two being the kids of longtime physics professor John MacArthur) were instrumental in encouraging Geoffry and seeing the project through. Jenny Altshuler, a partner at the Brattleboro Literary Festival, scanned and digitized the monologues, and another neighbor (and daughter-in-law of David Holzapfel ’72 and Michelle Chasse Holzapfel ’73), Jess Weitz, created the website. Hilly van Loon ’62 also gets tremendous credit for going through all 120 monologues, many of them 80 pages long, with her keen editor’s eye.
“I’m thinking where they might do the most good is in college or late high school history classes,” said Geoffry, who asserts that the stories are as relevant now as the time period in which they take place. “People that age tend to be not that interested in history, but if they get hooked on the story of an individual, they might see there is something in this, and get going on the delights and uses of history.”
Geoffry directing more than 200 plays during his 35-year tenure at Marlboro, and toured them throughout New England in the summers. His own plays have been performed at various venues including the Actor’s Equity Library theater at Lincoln Center, the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey, and the Adams Theater in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He has performed and toured 10 of his Quintessential Americans series, many of them at colleges and high schools throughout Vermont through the Vermont Council on the Humanities.
His neighbors fondly remember Geoffry walking up and down the road, rehearsing for several of these ambitious one-man shows over the years. “Dan and Gail’s dog Otto used to accompany me on my walks while I was rehearsing my lines,” he said. “The saying was that if I couldn’t make a performance, then Otto could be my stand-in—he must know all the lines.”
Learn more at https://www.geoffrybrown.net/home