By Brooke Geery
“Second Sight or the Way Of Holiness” premiered to a packed house on Turs- day, July 29, for a three-day run inside the Caldwell family’s barn in Pittsfield.
The play, written by Rutland native Ryan Mangan, melds Vermont history and spirituality to tell the story of the Eddys, a real Vermont family of mediums who lived in Chittenden in the 1800s.
Mangan has been working on the play with Matthew Eckler since 2016, but Covid postponed the official reading until this summer. With pandemic restrictions finally lifted, Mangan and a dedicated crew of thespians and producers were finally able to realize their vision.
Admission to the show was free, requiring only a reservation. Mangan, who also served as producer and assistant director, said the show received statewide interest, with every available seat spoken for. On opening night, the crowd completely filled the entry space while waiting to be let into the stage area. Behind large wooden doors, chairs were set in a circle, encouraging the viewers to sit close enough to the actors to be part of the show. Several times during the performance the audience was called on to participate. Everyone in attendance was also given a prayer card to write to their own lost loved ones and participate in the seance.
The barn stage was adorned with antique chandeliers and candles, which the characters lit and extinguished throughout the evening. There were also several bells, which jingled seemingly on their own at opportune times. Was it the actors with a cleverly disguised wire or the ghosts of Vermont past? Audience members will never know.
Director Michaela Eckler, originally from Fair Haven and now residing in Burlington, said the barn itself was the inspiration for staging the play. “[I] really wanted to create the show to work with the barn and the beautiful architecture to create the world of the Eddy family.”
The cast — which included Julie Redington, William Cruikshank, Andrew Hamling, Kim Moyer, Garrett Waite, Val- entine Giesey, Alyssa Shaw, Eric Ray and Mikki Lane — wore costumes created with the assistance of the Castleton University and Rutland High theatre programs.
Giving credit to all those who helped as cast or crew, donors and hosts, Mangan concluded his director’s note in the show’s program, “Tere is nothing like the pleasure of seeing your imagination play out before your eyes. To all the people who have helped this vision come to life, I’m forever grateful.”