Actor Charles D. Baker, whose alter ego, Cap’n Cholly, commands the Sea Gypsy by day, will perform The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic tale of of sin and redemption, aboard her as she lies becalmed on the Tred Avon River. The Gypsy and her cursed crewman sail from Easton Point every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening from Oct. 1 through Nov. 13.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834). Written in 1797–98, it was a signal of the shift to modern poetry and the beginning of British Romantic literature.
The Mariner, just back from a long sea voyage, stops a man who is on his way to a wedding, and begins to tell a story. The Wedding-Guest’s reaction turns from bemusement to impatience and fear to fascination as the story progresses.
The Mariner’s tale begins when his ship sails. After a promising start, the ship is driven off course by a storm, and eventually reaches Antarctica. An albatross appears, and reversals of fortune ensue, as the ship sails out of the Antarctic, into sunlight and warmth, then into windless, uncharted waters, and finally into a deadly whirlpool. The crew blames the Mariner, and forces him to wear the dead albatross around his neck. The bird becomes his cross to wear.
Eventually, in an eerie, prophetic passage, the ship encounters a ghostly vessel. On board are Death and the Night-mare Life-in-Death, playing dice for the souls of the crew. With a roll of the dice, Death wins the crewmen, and Life-in-Death wins the Mariner.
When the dice-game prophecy comes to pass, the Mariner, driven by guilt, is forced to wander the earth, tell his story, and teach a lesson to those he meets.
After finishing his story, the Mariner leaves, and the Wedding Guest returns home, to wake the next morning “a sadder and a wiser man.”
The poem received mixed reviews from critics, and his publisher once told Coleridge that most of the book’s sales were to sailors who thought it was a naval songbook. Nevertheless, more than two centuries later, it is still revered and even taught in school. Interpretations of Coleridge’s masterpiece are many and varied: from an exploration of the significance of nature and human superstition in a world characterized by religious uncertainty; to a Christian allegory; to a story of our salvation of Christ; to an autobiographical portrait of Coleridge and his own feelings of loneliness.
A professionally trained actor who studied at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Charles D. Baker portrays saints when he’s not playing a pirate. His Damien Productions presents four different one-man shows, based on the lives of Damien, who befriended lepers in Hawaii; the Apostle Paul; Francis of Assisi; and John the Baptist.
Each performance will take place at dusk, and audience members are advised to arrive at Easton Point about 30 minutes before dusk. The voyage, including travel to and from the dock, lasts approximately an hour and a quarter. Tickets are $25, and each voyage is limited to 25 passenger. Visit www.damienproductions.com for showtimes.