Harrison David Rivers '09 Workshops New Musical 'Five Points' at Discovering Broadway Writer's Retreat
Playwriting alumnus Harrison David Rivers ’09, alongside Ethan Pakchar and Douglas Lyons, workshopped the new musical, Five Points, at Discovering Broadway Inc.’s fifth Writer’s Retreat in Indiana.
October 19, 2022
Playwriting alumnus Harrison David Rivers ’09, alongside Ethan Pakchar and Douglas Lyons, workshopped the new musical, Five Points, at Discovering Broadway Inc.’s fifth Writer’s Retreat in Indiana. The retreat hosted the creative team earlier this month, from October 9–14, 2022.
Discovering Broadway, Inc. is a nonprofit organization geared toward helping theatre in Indiana act as a launchpad for Broadway. In its Writer’s Retreat, Discovering Broadway helps Broadway-bound creative teams gather to work on their developing projects; the retreat culminates in a showcase of exclusive new music for those projects.
Five Points, which is also currently in development at Paper Mill Playhouse, is based on real individuals and follows the intertwining stories of two performers in 1863. In the musical, Willie Lane is a young African American dancer who takes the stage at Almack’s Dance Hall—today, William Henry Lane is credited as one of the country’s first tap dancers. Lane’s counterpart, John Diamond, is an Irish immigrant and champion of the Irish jig. As the two men’s stories intersect, Five Points showcases the birth of American tap dance and explores what it means to become a part of the American Dream. The show’s title alludes to the Five Points neighborhood in lower Manhattan, the slum of which is thought to be the original melting pot in the United States: it was an area where, in the mid-nineteenth century, free Black people, escaped slaves, and Irish immigrants converged and lived in a racially integrated environment. Almack’s Dance Hall was a lively, if perhaps undecorous, performance hall positioned in a basement under a carpentry shop within the Five Points.
Harrison David Rivers is an award-winning playwright, librettist, and television writer based in Minnesota. He writes plays about broken people who find strength in their imperfections, with the hope that his work may usher in a more equitable, courageous, kind, and accepting world. His plays include: the bandaged place, When Last We Flew, Sweet, And She Would Stand Like This, Where Storms Are Born, A Crack in the Sky, This Bitter Earth, To Let Go and Fall, and Broadbend, Arkansas. His television credits include One of Us is Lying (Peacock), The Nevers (HBO), and The Plot (Hulu). Rivers is a recipient of McKnight and Jerome Fellowships at The Playwrights Center, as well as a New Dramatists’ Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship. He has completed residencies with the Bogliasco Foundation, Siena Art Institute, The Hermitage, and Duke University. His work has been commissioned by Roundabout Theatre Company, Transport Group, Penumbra, TheaterWorks Hartford, Geva Theatre Center, and La Jolla Playhouse.