Staged to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s landing, the 1921 Pageant of the Pilgrim Spirit was a sprawling, epic production. Among its stranger elements — ranking alongside William Bradford’s premonition of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and the Prologue and Finale spoken by “The Voice of the Rock” — has to be the appearance of the Norsemen.
The pageant program dates the appearance of these early visitors in Plymouth to about 1000 AD, and describes the performance as “played in pantomime to music.” Only one role is specifically named — Thorwald played by John Delano — but 46 men from Kingston, Duxbury, Plymouth and Marshfield are named as players in this scene, including Kingston’s Town Clerk of many years George Cushman.
Given the Norsemen’s spectacular outfits, it seems a shame that Plymouth Rock got more lines.
The program is online in full here.
Source: Jones River Village Historical Society Collection (photo); Vertical Files: “The Pilgrim Spirit” (program).
This month’s exhibit showcases people from Kingston dressing up like their Pilgrim predecessors. In 1920, the spectacle known as the Tercentenary Pageant featured a number of Kingstonians, new immigrants and Mayflower descendants alike, among its 1,300 actors. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Major John Bradford House served as the setting for dramatic vignettes and an educational film, directed by none other than the auteur responsible for Dating Do’s and Don’ts. Stop by and take a look.