A Victorian self-help book for women may not seem like the basis of a theatrical production, but that was the exact inspiration behind Domestic Bliss.
Written by Fanning Springs-based playwright Brad Six, the show will be staged in May at the Chief Theatre.
“I was doing research on public domain books I could maybe turn into a script and I found a book published in 1897 with an anonymous author – a book of domestic knowledge for women. It’s a self help book to show women how to clean things and do all sorts of things at home. It even has parts in it about legal issues and goes through all sorts of different topics,” said Brad Six. “My idea evolved after talking to my daughter and my wife. I was going to do the show about the doctor coming in [and presenting the book] but my daughter said ‘Why don’t you do it from the point of view of the women, how the book impacts them and their lives?’”
Set in 1899, Domestic Bliss now centers around a group of progressive women promoting a book about women’s health as a fundraising effort. How the book, and its contents, impact each of their lives is where the fun, humorous action happens. Each woman uses the book to help herself, in different ways. Though set in the past, the ideas in the play are very modern and on topic today.
Featuring 11 local actors, Six chose to bring in all experienced performers as they will need to be a strong but fluid cast, to work with him as the script develops. While the work is complete, it may need to be altered as this is the first physical staging. Some of the actors are long-time members of the Chief Theatre, while others have joined in the past season or two.
Domestic Bliss is not the first script written by Six, but it is the first that he hopes to professionally publish. The script is designed specifically to fit local community theaters. Six holds a degree in theater design and serves as the Chief Theater’s set designer so he is very familiar with the needs and the costs of a small theater.
“The Chief is in rural Florida. We don’t have a lot of money. Then the pandemic hit and we were shut down,” said Six. “Putting on shows that are in the public domain, or shows written for the theatre, is one of the things we can do to try to save on costs.”
Last season, the Chief Theater presented a well-received production of the drama Dad’s House by Gainesville-based playwright Wyatt Bowden.
Domestic Bliss runs May 13-29 and features Logan Acevedo, Serenity Bohon, William Burr, Eugene Gibbins, Kristen Eckelmann, Sage Gregory, Hailey Horrigan, Andy Kidd, Roberta Kidd, M. Lanette Six and Tristen Vega.