'Ghosts of the Past' visit on Halloween Play: An archaeologist uses information gathered from excavating London Town to bring the 18th-century community to life.

October 29, 1998|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Archaeologist James G. Gibb has spent three years unearthing bottles, saucers and cups from the banks of the South River, learning a little more about London Town, the thriving 18th-century community that has disappeared.

At Halloween, he will help resurrect some of the people who lived there.

Gibb is the author of "Ghosts of the Past," a three-act play that puts in story form what archaeologists have learned after years of digging at London Town.

Visitors will meet the Rumneys, who ran a tavern that archaeologists hope to reconstruct; the Browns, whose waterfront mansion is the only remaining structure of the lost town; and Dr. Richard Hill, a Quaker who experimented with medicinal uses of herbs.

The London Town Foundation wanted to entice a new visitors by introducing the historic play during the fall holiday.

"I think too often [history] is kept in the academic arena," said Barbara Gimperling, London Town Foundation spokeswoman who encouraged Gibb to write the play. "I wanted a way to share what happened at London Town and have fun."

The idea of spinning tales at historic homes is not unique to London Town. Clandestine Tales at Charles Carroll House in Annapolis gives visitors a candlelight guided tour of the 18th-century building, where actors on each floor portray Irish, English and African characters.

At London Town, tours begin with a brief overview of the town and a few tales about the nearby cemetery and the ghosts said to haunt it. The makeup on the characters, lighting and special effects will add a little mystery.

The first stop is the basement of Rumney's Tavern, an excavation site covered by a plastic igloo-shaped tent Gibb calls the "digloo," where layers of glass -- broken bottles, mugs and saucers -- that were thrown into the cellar are exposed. Visitors will meet actors who play an archaeologist and the ghosts of Edward and Elinor Rumney, who built boats and ran the tavern from about 1700 to 1718.

The ghosts of Hill, the herbal researcher, and Elizabeth Robertson, a commoner who maintained a garden next to her home, appear at Hill's memorial garden to debate the relative merits of Hill's herbs and Robertson's garden foods.

The final scene is in the basement of the William Brown house, whose owner, a carpenter who also ran a ferry, went broke trying to build the brick waterfront mansion. There the ghosts of William and Susanna Brown and Sheriff Stephen Rawlings, who sold the Brown house, are awakened as their names are called during a tour of the upstairs of the house.

"We make the characters as true as we can based on the evidence we have," Gibb said. "We're trying to convey what we have learned to the general public in an interesting way."

"Ghosts of the Past" will be staged from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today through Saturday at London Town House and Gardens, 839 Londtown Road, Edgewater. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for children age 12 and younger.

Information: 410-222-1919.

"Clandestine Tales" runs from 7 p.m. to 9: 30 p.m. today through Saturday at the Charles Carroll House, 107 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis. Admission is $5. Light refreshments are served. Information: 410-269-1737.

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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