HMTC is a theater company that has a commitment to bring relevant theater to the community. Though the Mussel Slough Tragedy happen 142 years ago this month in 1880, the story resonates with many in Hanford.
There was a full house to see this reading on May 7. We had people from faraway as Wyoming and Stockton, CA to see this event. The story is a Hanford story, even though many youths have not heard of it, the senior residents have. What is impressive is that they were grateful that the story is back. They exclaimed that not only is it a Hanford story that made international news back then, but it can also be seen happening today with the issues of railway and government. They could not stop talking about that with the after-show feedback discussion.
The play reading chronicled the naivete of two couples who believed they were going to get the land in the central valley at $2.50 an acre if they staked it and improved it as was advertised in a circular (or pamphlet). The fine print was from $2.50 an acre. After improving the land they were appalled at appraisal prices of $25-35 an acre from the railroad. They could not pay. Their investment of arduous work to make the land productive in the area was ignored. Locals cited corporate greed. Facing eviction, someone shot, and it resulted in a gunfight that killed seven.
As the playwright of the play THE MUSSEL SLOUGH CHRONICLES – A CALIFORNIA TRAGEDY, I wanted a lively discussion of the piece. That is what I got, and I am thrilled.
If you saw the staged-reading, my script plans is to expand on the characters of Marshall Poole, Crow, and McQuiddy. I will also keep the ‘dresser’ in the play for it brought on the laughs.