In Token of My Admiration

Conceived, Written & Produced by AXIS COMPANY

Directed by Randy Sharp

April 22 - June 12, 2004

Thursdays - Saturdays at 8PM
Adults $10, Students/Seniors $10

During August of 1849 an explosive friendship began between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. Although it only lasted a year and a half, it was during this time that Melville wrote one of the few American, true masterpieces which he dedicated to Hawthorne with "In token of my admiration for his genius." Hawthorne was at the height of his literary success, having just published The Scarlet Letter and then The House of the Seven Gables. He was thrilled by the renegade maverick who had sailed the seven seas and come back again to the summer mountains of western Massachusetts. They visited each other often. Only a few months after it began, their friendship and their separate lives took dangerous turns for the worse. Melville published his genius Moby-Dick to little notice except derision in the press, an event that he never was able to understand. Hawthorne, afraid of the dark door he had opened in The Scarlet Letter, retreated into idyllic fairy tales that sold well but showed little of his dire emotional struggles. Incredibly, after the disaster of Moby-Dick, Melville went to work for twenty years as an ordinary custom's inspector in downtown New York. For twenty years he published nothing but poems and then simply nothing. His son committed suicide and he began his terminal relationship with alcohol. Hawthorne took a patrician's job as consul to Liverpool, cutting himself off physically and mentally from the "blue room" he had entered in New England with Melville. He died a relatively young man that even he described as "another pallid phantom gliding noiselessly up and down the stairs."

Featuring: Brian Barnhart, Joe Fuer | On Film: Jim Sterling, David Crabb, Valérie Hallier, Laurie Kilmartin, Margo Passalaqua, Christopher Swift, Edgar Oliver

Director: Randy Sharp
Production Stage Manager: Jared Abramson
Assistant Stage Manager: Kate Aronsson-Brown
Light Design: David Zeffren
Film: Dan Hersey
Assistant Camera: David Flannigan
Film Editing: Mike Huetz
Sound Design & Song Arrangement: Steve Fontaine
Production Design: Kate Aronsson-Brown
Screen Construction: Chris Bundy
Website & Graphics: Ethan Crenson

Executive Producer: Jeffrey Resnick
Company Manager: Brian Barnhart
Box Office Manager: Daniel Albanese

The Producers wish to thank Benjamin Trimmier and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum for their cooperation in the filming for this production.

The Producers wish to thank the tdf Costume Collection for its assistance in this production.

This production is made possible by a generous grant from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

  • Brian Barnhart, Valérie Hallier (on screen), Joe Fuer - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Joe Fuer (on screen), Brian Barnhart - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Brian Barnhart (on screen), Joe Fuer - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Brian Barnhart - photo by Dixie Sheridan
  • Joe Fuer, Brian Barnhart (on screen) - photo by Dixie Sheridan

“In exploring the Hawthorne-Melville relationship, the company again proves itself to be an exciting, evolving presence on the downtown theater scene. ”
“...truly is playful, odd, resonant, sometimes poetic and occasionally puzzling. That's just what you ought to find in basement theaters on Sheridan Square.”
The New York Times
“The repetition of so few lines and the fact that the actors don't talk to each other makes this a show about space -- space that requires audience members to play an active role in filling it in and finding meaning in the piece. For those with a literary inclination, this sort of thing can be exciting; they are rewarded when a repeated line takes on new meaning through an actor's variant delivery... The play ends with a thematically elegant moment...(a) simply dramatized sequence (which) resonates in a way that shows off the theatrical smarts of the Axis Company and director Randy Sharp.”
“Axis Company's narrative exploration of the friendship between literary luminaries Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville might be based on historical facts, but its approach is purely imaginative. In Token of My Admiration envisions conversations between the two men through poetic dialogue, film, and even an inspired vaudeville act. Using a sparse, industrial space with a small stage and three screens, the scenes focus on lean dialogue between the two stage performers and the actors on film. The conversations are mostly suggestive, however, and it's left to the audience's own imagination to fill in the blanks. ”
—Flavor Pill