Welcome to the fifth day of our Spring Fund Drive, Celebrating Virginia Theater as we continue to bring you illuminating facts, suitable for use at cocktail parties & potlucks, about the nearly 350-year tradition of Theater in Virginia.

Did you know that Edgar Allan Poe’s mother was an acclaimed actor, dancer & singer from England who made her American debut in Boston in 1796 when she was just 9 years old?

It is Thanks to YOU, our loyal supporters, that the Hamner Theater is alive and flourishing in Nelson County. We are your theater! But this theater doesn’t come for free, or even for the low $10 ticket price. We can continue to bring theater to you only through your continued generosity. Any amount you can give will help us to bring you more theater, more music, more adventure.

Our Goal for this Spring Fund Drive is $20,000.
We are the grateful recipients of two $5000 donations. These donations came with a challenge – we need to raise double the amount, or $20,000. To put this in perspective, $20,000 is 40 donations of $500.
$500 = the set for a show(OR a Givenchy Pierrot leopard print T-shirt)

Thanks To All Who Have Already Given!
Please accept our heartfelt thanks and know that it is only because of YOU that we are able to continue bringing you:

  • Shakespeare productions for everyone

Nelson County Shakespeare Festival return for their third production, Merrie Wives of Wintergreen, on stage soon…and it is not too late to get involved…don’t miss out on a chance to do it like an Elizabethan!

How you can help to make our Spring Fund Drive, Celebrating Virginia Theater a success by giving to the Hamner Theater.
Remember, if we were to survive on ticket price alone, we’d need to charge more than $100 per ticket to make our basic budget. But we are committed to keeping our ticket prices at $10, so that everyone can come. Do you support this idea? Theater is a vital part of any community and we hope when you think ‘theater’ you think Hamner!

Three easy ways to donate today:

  • Call 434.361.1999, or, use our contact form to make a pledge.
  • Download a donation form, and mail it to us at Hamner Theater, P.O. Box 106, Nellysford, Virginia 22958.
  • Donate via PayPal (no PayPal account required).
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The Hamner Theater is a non-profit 501(c)(3) project of the Rockfish Valley Community Center.
All donations to the Hamner Theater are tax-deductible.

Answers to Day 4 Questions

Famous Virginians, part 4: Writers born in Virginia include Russell Baker, David Baldacci, Willa Cather, William Styron, Tom Wolfe and, of course, Earl Hamner.

Bonus Question:
Like Blanche DuBois, we rely on the kindness of strangers (whoever you are).

Read on to find out interesting facts about Theater in Virginia.

1) What is the connection between Eliza Poe and Richmond?

Elizabeth Arnold Poe is best known today for her famous son (who was born in Boston, not Virginia) but in her brief lifetime, she was a leading light of the stage in New York, Boston, Philadelphia & Richmond. Born in London in 1787, she arrived in America on January 3, 1796, with her mother, Elizabeth Arnold (who was also an actress). Success came quickly to Eliza, her debut was praised, and she & her mother joined the Charleston Comedians, a touring troupe managed by a Mr. Edgar. Eliza stayed on with this troupe after her mother’s death. (The date of Elizabeth Arnold’s death is unknown, but her last theatrical notice was in 1798, when Eliza was 11.) At 15, Eliza married actor Charles Hopkins in Alexandria, VA, and they performed together on the Virginia circuit until he died 3 years later, aged 20.

Six months after the death of her first husband, Eliza Arnold Hopkins married David Poe, Jr., a stagestruck young lawyer from Baltimore who gave up the law for the stage in order to pursue her. They settled in Boston where Eliza’s success continued, she played leading roles including Ophelia and Juliet. (Eliza played over 300 roles in her career.) David Poe was more successful in love than his chosen profession – he may have suffered from stage fright; critics ridiculed him whilst praising Eliza’s ‘sweetly melodious voice’ and ‘interesting figure’. Six weeks after relocating to New York, after yet another critical review, Poe left the theater troupe (perhaps to look for work), and vanished from the record. No one knows what became of him after his last performance in October, 1809, at which time he & Eliza had 2 sons, William Henry Leonard & Edgar. Generally referred to in unflattering terms as a mediocre actor, hot-head & alcoholic, it is commonly assumed that David Poe abandoned his family. (Note, however, that Eliza gave birth to daughter Rosalie in December 1810, more than a year after his disappearance.)

Eliza continued performing, supporting herself and her 3 children, until October 1811, when she became ill, probably with tuberculosis. “Her last performance was on October 11, 1811, as Countess Wintersen in a play called The Stranger. Friends and fellow actors Mr. and Mrs. Luke Usher took care of the children during Eliza’s illness and many in the Richmond area took an interest in her health. On November 29 of that year, the Richmond Theatre announced a benefit performance on her behalf. A local publication, the Enquirer, reported her need for help: “On this night, Mrs. Poe, lingering on the bed of disease and surrounded by her children, asks your assistance and asks it perhaps for the last time”.” (from the Wikipedia)

Eliza Arnold Poe died on December 8, 1811, in a boarding house in Richmond, when she was only 24 years old. She spent her last days trying to arrange care for her children, who were sent to 3 different families. She was buried in St Johns Church in Richmond, where there is a memorial plaque. Had she not died 2 weeks earlier, there is a good chance that Eliza Poe would have been caught in the Richmond Theatre fire of 1811…

2) What is the word never uttered in a theater (besides MacBeth)?

Famous Virginians, part 5: Can you name 3 explorers born in Virginia?

Bonus Question:
Multiple Choice! Match the quotation to the source. Who said:

1) “Art is an offensive weapon in the defense against the enemy.’

2) “Two bucks is two bucks.”

3) “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.”

4) “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

a) Oscar Wilde
b) Arkadina, from The Seagull, by Anton Chekov
c) Anne Frank
d) Winston Churchill
e) Pablo Picasso
f) Dodge, from Buried Child, by Sam Shepard

Tune in tomorrow for more interesting information you can use to impress your friends…and for the answers to today’s questions.

Please support the arts in your community by making a donation today – the Hamner Theater needs YOU.

If you know someone who might need help with cocktail conversation material, please forward this email to them. Thanks again.