Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dispatches from Candor

Draft press release to the Candor-area paper re: Scott's show. Hoping to get it to Candor "where it belongs." This is happening Boston marathon weekend. Couldn't think of a more difficult or more perfect time for it to occur. Here's hoping we can make it all come together.

Last fall, the Candor community said good-bye to a woman who inspired thousands. Polly Ann Tompkins, age 39, passed away from breast cancer after a valiant multi-year battle. No one who knew Polly or her story can forget how her spirit, courage, humor and grace demonstrated a life well-lived.

Among those in attendance at her memorial was Scott Giessler, the husband of Polly’s cousin, Phoebe. Giessler is a New Hampshire resident and a high school teacher. He is also the director of the Kingswood High School theater program. For the last several years, Giessler and his students have written and produced original one-act plays each spring. In Candor during that September weekend, he was inspired by the profound faith, joy, pain and love expressed by all who were present.

The kernel of an idea grew and, with input from Phoebe and his students, Giessler wrote Dispatches From Candor, a one-act play inspired by Polly’s life, family and untimely passing. “Although it’s not a biography, the play is in every sense a memorial and meant to reflect what was beautiful about her world,” Giessler said. “There’s highs and lows in it, but there’s beauty in the lows, too.”

The theater students, who of course never knew Polly personally, were immediately intrigued and inspired by her story. They have tirelessly worked to capture the spirit of Dispatches and are excited about the challenge of bringing the play to the stage. Kingswood Theater will be performing the play twice in March at their Arts Center in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire and again as part of a statewide theater festival.

These shows will doubtless be moving to audiences but Giessler was not satisfied. There had to be a way, he thought, to bring the play to the people who knew and loved Polly the most: the people of Candor, NY.

And so, with a good deal of fund raising by the theater students, encouragement from Polly’s family, favors called in and the dumb luck of one empty weekend on the calendar, Kingswood Theater will be bringing Dispatches From Candor to the Candor Jr.-Sr. High School auditorium on Saturday, April 16. Tickets are $8 each or $50 per family and can be purchased by contacting _____ at ______.

Giessler is a native of Massachusetts and became acquainted with Candor during his time at Ithaca College. Something about the town and its people begged to be explored. “I had been looking for an opportunity to write about the community of Candor for a long time and although these events were tragic, they summarize why.”

After working with this show for so long, Giessler’s students are anxious to meet the people and see the places that inspired the play. The group made a unanimous decision to sacrifice a chance to perform at the New England Theater festival in order to be in Candor. They will take an 8–hour bus ride from New Hampshire on Friday night, sleep on the gym floor, utilize the Candor locker rooms for facilities and eat food provided by volunteers from the community. It is their hope, and the hope of Scott Giessler, that the Candor auditorium be filled that Saturday afternoon with the same kind of love and hope that lingered over every moment of Polly’s memorial service and funeral.


  1. SO UNBELIEVABLY FANTASTIC. I cried when I read this. Polly would be so honored! I wish I could get back for it...hopefully there will be DVDs for purchase!??!?:)

  2. Anxiously awaiting our opportunity to see what promises to be a wonderful play about a wonderful person. Wonderful seems to be the appropriate word to describe all involved in the creation and presentation of this project.
    Thank you Scott. Thank you Phoebe.