“I was listening to a WSHU podcast by Davis Dunavin when I first learned about Ammi Phillips,” said Thrown Stone theater company’s co-artistic director Jonathan Winn. “It was in December and it was one of those moments,” he said, recapturing the excitement of discovering a subject he wanted to pursue. The subject was Ammi Phillips, an itinerant American frontier portrait artist. Once Winn started researching, he knew that this story would make a fine play.
It certainly has all the makings of a good play given the folk artist was born in Connecticut. That’s a local connection that Thrown Stone’s audiences would certainly appreciate and there’s an element of mystery and discovery about the artist who rarely signed his work. There’s also plenty of drama in Phillips’ story since the artist’s life coincided with the abolition of slavery in Connecticut between 1784 and 1848. That America is now in the throes of huge changes, such a play would undoubtedly be timely.