Showcase Productions to present two historical plays as part of Amherst 125

Guilty!: The Great Amherst Mystery and The Prophet at Tantramar on deck this summer

Published on May 21, 2014

AMHERST – Following their successful production of Monty Phython’s Spamalot, Showcase Productions is busy preparing for two additional productions in 2014.

Guilty!: The Great Amherst Mystery, written by Amherst native Charlie Rhindress, will be shown again this summer.

Rhindress, who is currently the artistic producer of Eastern Front Theatre in Dartmouth, has given Showcase Productions permission to present the show this summer in recognition of Amherst’s 125th birthday celebration.

Guilty!: The Great Amherst Mystery was written approximately 20 years and first presented by Live Bait Theatre that was founded by Rhindress and his wife, Karen.

In 1878 Amherst, an 18-year-old girl, Esther Cox, was possessed by an evil spirit that controlled her body and terrorized a household and an entire town.

This dramatization is based on events that were witnessed by hundreds of people.

Was Esther the victim of paranormal powers or the troubled mind behind a series of elaborate hoaxes?

At the time of her alleged haunting, the plausibility of Esther Cox’s claims were hotly debated in newspapers and by fellow Amherst residents.

In the 100 years since her death, Esther’s story has been retold numerous times and she remains to this day the town’s most famous historical figure.

The second show is The Prophet at Tantramar, a short play written by Silver Donald Cameron.

Cameron is one of Canada's most versatile and experienced professional authors. His work includes plays, films, radio and TV scripts, an extensive body of corporate and governmental writing, hundreds of magazine articles and 17 books, including two novels.

The Prophet at Tantramar is about Leon Trotsky's month-long confinement in a prisoner-of-war camp in Amherst (where the old Winter Fair buildings were located on Park Street).

Directed by Janice Corbett Melanson, the play was work shopped at Playwrights Workshop Montreal, and produced by The Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro, in 1988, where it was directed by Michael Fuller.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation later presented the show as a one-hour radio drama.

The location of the productions is yet to be confirmed, as well as the dates. Both of these works are being financially supported by the Town of Amherst with a grant. It is hoped that both productions will take place near downtown Amherst at the height of the town’s celebration.