LIKENESS by David Caudle
Notes from the Playwright
In late March of 1765, the Parliament of Great Britain passed a Stamp Act that required all documents on paper in the American colonies to carry a tax stamp. This included all newspapers, playing cards, calling cards, and even sketching paper. Scheduled to take effect in November of that year, the tax was designed to help defray the heavy costs of the French and Indian War, which had ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763.
The Stamp Act raised loud protests among the formerly complacent colonists. In the summer of 1765, Andrew Oliver of Boston accepted the post of Stamp Agent for Massachusetts. On the night of August 14, 1765, Mr. Oliver's office and home were attacked by a mob. An effigy of the hapless man was hanged and burned in a stately elm that became known as the Liberty Tree. In fear of his life, Mr. Oliver resigned his post the following morning.
This blatant, unprecedented show of organized revolt signaled a growing political instability in the American colonies. Investors overseas grew leery of committing capital to colonial enterprises. The colonial government tried to pacify the colonists, as governments will, by raising fears of renewed attacks from, say, the French or the Indians, or any other perhaps unnamed outside threat.
When we meet Edmund Farraday in July of 1765, the Stamp Act has passed, but has yet to be implemented. The identity of the Stamp Agent in Massachusetts is not yet known to the public. It is a summer of grumblings and suspense. Edmund Farraday, however, only hears the grumblings of his stomach. He has no idea of involving himself in any political action, but only wants to make his name and fortune by painting a true likeness of a well-connected young girl. In this attempt, one might say he is also applying the strokes for a rendering of himself.
We all live in our own Summers of '65. We all struggle to find shelter in our various climates of fear and vanity. Through the choices we make, and the actions we take, we are painting our own self-portraits every day.
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