Maryland playwright Bob Bartlett, whose play Swimming With Whales recently received its world premiere at 1st Stage Tysons, and who is a founder of The Welders, the Washington, D.C.-based Playwrights Collective, premieres a new play, a time-bending romantic comedy, The Accident Bear, opening on November 30, 2018 at the Laundromat on Maryland Avenue in historic Annapolis, Maryland. Jay Brock will direct.
Bartlett says the idea for the play came while he was living in a downtown walk-up on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. On Thursday nights, he would carry his laundry up the block to the local laundromat, where he would do his weekly laundry, and eventually write a play set in that laundromat. “I’ve always be drawn to coin-operated laundromats, and The Avenue Laundromat on Maryland Avenue evokes laundromats of old,” he says. The washers and driers are contemporary, but the vintage vending machine is but one of the features that inspired him to write an unusual comedy set there. “Let’s face it,” he adds, “laundromats are romantic.”
“I’ve often written with specific locations in mind, but I’ve never written for a specific location in that location,” says Bartlett, a life-long Maryland resident. “I knew as I was writing the play that I wanted it to be staged in a working laundromat, and I hoped it could be produced in the laundromat that was the source of the play.”
Bartlett appreciates site-specific theatre, which he believes has the potential to engage audiences in more immediate ways than theatre staged in traditional spaces. Once he had on paper an interesting story to tell, he approached the laundromat’s owner, Annie Small, about producing the play on site. She read and liked the script, and agreed to allow Bartlett access to her business – in off hours – for a four-week run this late fall.
Small believes the community will appreciate this opportunity to see theatre in a special way: “I have been feeling quite lucky to visit with good customer, and playwright Bob Bartlett, during the planning for the production of THE ACCIDENT BEAR in our laundromat. His play provides another angle to laundry, as well as an opportunity for our neighbors, boaters, and tourists to enjoy delightful, historic, varied, and delicious Maryland Avenue!”
Shortly after immigrating from Russia in the early part of the twentieth century, The Snyder Family lived on the second floor of 72/74 Maryland Avenue, and the family’s patriarch, Mr. Snyder, operated a tailor’s shop on the first floor (what is now the laundromat). The Nichols’ family later turned the first floor into a laundromat, which they operated until the mid- to late 1960s when Small’s father, Bill Pfefferkorn, purchased the property from the Nichols’ family.
Small and her husband Dennis purchased the property from her father in 1986. Today, the laundromat serves the Greater Annapolis area, including the Naval Academy and St. John’s College, and is just a few feet from State Circle and the Maryland State House.
Bartlett moved to Maryland Avenue in 2012 because he believed it would be an inspiring neighborhood in which to live and write, with its abundant and walkable cafes, bookstores, shops, and restaurants. He recently moved away, buying a home close to Annapolis in Davidsonville, but still frequents the businesses on Maryland Avenue.
“I imagine our audiences have never seen a play in a laundromat. I’ve never seen a play in a laundromat,” he adds.
The Accident Bear will run from November 30 – December 22, 2018 at The Laundromat on Maryland Avenue at 74 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401.
Tickets and press photos are available at www.bob-bartlett.com. The play is not suitable for children.
EXTREMELY LIMITED SEATING: Fridays (7:30 PM), Saturdays (7:30 PM & 10:00 PM), and Sundays (5:30 PM) from November 30 – December 22, 2018.