Who is the knight of the burning pestle? Why is he coming to Nyack? What makes his pestle burn? I sat down with Dr. Pinkham, English professor at large and thespian extraordinaire, to find out more about this knight coming next semester.
The Knight of the Burning Pestle is an early seventeenth century play by Francis Beaumont. One of the first parodies and metadramas, Burning Pestle demolishes the fourth wall. The play revolves around a play being performed in which a young woman falls in love with her father’s apprentice, but is engaged to a richer man. The Romeo and Juliet type story gets interrupted, though, when two “audience members” decide that they don’t like the way the play is going and want to see it take a different direction.
Pinkham read the play on the recommendation Dr. Beach. After reading through it, Pinkham said, “I had a vision for performing the play, that it would allow the students to shine in performances and not get overwhelmed by the language.” Beaumont was a contemporary of Shakespeare, so the English used in the play may at times sound like one of the Bard’s constructions. However, Burning Pestle is simpler and much more accessible.
Pinkham is excited to be directing Burning Pestlenext semester. He remembers being involved with the theatre as one of the best parts of his time as a student at Nyack. “Those were the best times, the most fun times, and they offered the opportunity for the closest friendships and often some of the strongest growth was coming out of those experiences, both intellectual and emotional and spiritual… A lot really came out of it for those of us involved.”
When he thinks about what the theatre provided for him as a student, Pinkham says that “there is a spirit of camaraderie that comes out of the theater opportunities that I want to bring back. There is a level of community and maybe even family that comes out of that that I haven’t seen anywhere else on campus in my years here as a professor.”
And it has been a long time since Nyack has done a play. “The last thing that I’m aware of that was on a larger scale,” Pinkham says, “was Danaher: The Musical back in 2006,” but he caveats, “if we’re talking written by a famous playwright or a famous musical, now we’re starting years before that… Basically, it seems like the only outlet for student performance on the campus in the past few years has been Opera Workshop, and if you’re not an opera singer you’re not going to be part of it.”
The cast list for Burning Pestle has been posted. Come next semester, you will be able to see Kevin Winkle as the Citizen with Allison Birch as the Wife, Courtney Soucek as Luce and Simon Song as Jasper, and Ben Wallin as Rafe, the eponymous Knight of the Burning Pestle, as well as so many more talented student performers.