‘Gifts’ by Letter of Marque Theater Company

Theat-arrr! Pirate-inspired performers promise free holiday play

Brooklyn Daily
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

The only thing these pirates are plundering is ticket prices.

A crew of actors and self-described swashbucklers is putting on a holiday play at a Park Slope bar on Dec. 15 — and it will not cost you a single Doubloon. It is all part of Letter of Marque Theater Company’s mission to bring live theater back to the people.

“Theater these days is seen as a pretentious art that only people in the arts or people who are very rich can afford,” said Nolan Kennedy, the artistic director of the Gowanus-based troupe. “We want to do theater that is much more in line with Shakespeare’s troops, when the theater was for the masses.”

Kennedy — who also performs with the political performance ensemble Strike Anywhere — alternates the role of artistic lead in the company with fellow actors Scarlet Maressa River and Walland H. Scripps, in a democratic style he said was also used by 18th century pirate crews.

“We wanted to do something different and create an ensemble that ran like a pirate ship — in that everybody can hand, reef, and steer — and translate that into the theater,” Kennedy said.

Letter of Marque — which is named for the documents governments issued to privateers, excepting them from piracy laws so long as the ships they attacked and robbed were enemy vessels — is funded by philanthropic arts foundations and organizations and through donations, so it does not have to pillage its audiences for admission costs. It also hosts its shows in everyday places, which Kennedy said he hopes will make the company’s shows more accessible.

“We wanted to perform at places where we can insert theater into people’s lives in a way that’s not intrusive,” he said. “We want to experiment with doing theater in unconventional spaces.”

“Gifts,” the play Letter of Marque will be performing at the Fifth Estate Bar, is also imbued with the company’s altruistic spirit. Adapted from O. Henry’s short story “Gift of the Magi,” it chronicles a married couple as they grow older and celebrate 10 different Christmas Eves. Kennedy said he decided to rewrite the story because he has a love-hate relationship with the classic gift-giving Christmas tale.

“It’s literally, ‘I am giving you a physical thing in exchange for love and forgiveness,’” Kennedy said. “That always weirded me out. That always bugged me.”

Spoiler alert — in Kennedy’s version, of the couple ends up finding happiness without material things. It is enough to warm the heart of even the saltiest sea dog.

“Gifts” at the Fifth Estate Bar [506 Fifth Ave. between 12th and 13th avenues in Park Slope, (718) 840–0089,]. Dec. 15–16 at 7:30 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: