Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has written Fantastic Four and Spider-Man storylines for Marvel Comics. He serves as a writer-producer for the hit television series “Glee.” But he calls theatre his “touchstone.”
Aguirre-Sacasa has more than a dozen plays to his credit, including works for Manhattan Theatre Club (Based on a Totally True Story) and Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Good Boys and True). His comic-book cred got him script-writing gigs for a revision of Charles Strouse’s It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman at Dallas Theater Center and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway. For his newest work, Abigail/1702, at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, he digs into a new set of familiar characters.
Aguirre-Sacasa witnessed Steppenwolf’s production of The Crucible while he was rehearsing his play there in 2007. The character of Abigail Williams, who accuses Salem residents of witchcraft and vindictively seeks to destroy John Proctor’s marriage, intrigued him. “She’s important at the start, but she vanishes about three-quarters of the way through the play,” he points out. Arthur Miller’s note that Abigail went to Boston and became a harlot “made the hair on the back of my neck stand up,” Aguirre-Sacasa avows, “and I said, ‘Well, that’s a play!’” Abigail/1702 happens a decade after The Crucible.
Cincinnati Playhouse’s new artistic director Blake Robison (with whom Aguirre-
Sacasa worked with in 2009 at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Md., on an adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray) directs the premiere of Abigail/1702, which runs Jan. 19–Feb. 17. “He brings a real muscularity to the proceedings,” the playwright says of Robison. “We are both storytellers, excited by strong narratives. A lot of my plays are high-wire acts with characters in extremis.”
With a whiff of Nathaniel Hawthorne in his words, Aguirre-Sacasa describes Abigail/1702 as “a phantasmagoria, a supernatural tale, a full-blooded love story.” No superhero, obviously, but a supercharged tale.