In November 2017, IRT Playwright-in-Residence James Still and Indy-actor David Alan Anderson traveled to suburban Boston, Mass., to visit Mayland Fields and celebrate her 100th birthday. This celebration marked nearly two decades of close friendship between James and Mayland, a relationship that bloomed from their commitment to telling the story of one Indiana patriot.
If the name Mayland Fields sounds familiar, it’s because she has had a significant impact on James' play Looking Over The President’s Shoulder—a one-man play which tells the story of Alonzo Fields, an African-American Hoosier, who spent two decades as the Chief Butler at the White House, serving Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower.
It is Mayland, the second wife of Alonzo, who gave Still permission to write the play and who provided valuable insight and research into the life of her late husband. She opened her home to James, allowing him to look through Alonzo's private papers.
Since 2000, the pair communicates frequently and have met on several occasions, including her attendance at earlier versions of the play like the 2001 IRT world-premiere and the Ford's Theatre production in Washington DC in 2004.
The gathering marked the first time she and David have met, despite him having stared as Alonzo three times (People's Light & Theatre Company, Delaware Theatre Company, and IRT's 2008 production).
Thank you, Mayland, for graciously sharing your husband’s story and for helping us bring history to life on stages across the country.
Looking Over the President's Shoulder will return to the IRT Upperstage on March 27-May 6.
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