Bonnie Grice’s boots on the ground theater, founded in 2016, offers something different for theatergoers on the East End. With a focus on bringing historical fiction to life onstage, boots on the ground mounted Deep Down in Brooklyn by Ed German in 2016, followed by The Miracle Worker by William Gibson and The Red Badge of Courage adapted by Catherine Bush in 2018.
Their next production, scheduled for March 2020, is the Long Island premiere of Sherlock’s Secret Life by Ed Lange. The play, which tells an untold tale of the legendary private eye, will be accompanied by an exhibition about the time period. The company needs funding to make the production happen. Grice is excited to bring the storied detective to Hamptons audiences.
Tell us about your next production, Sherlock’s Secret Life.
Sherlock’s Secret Life is a new story about the famed Private Detective written by New York playwright Ed Lange and based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s an exciting, edgy and shocking new tale about the world’s most famous detective, as well as a Long Island premiere!
How do you feel about bringing Sherlock’s Secret Life to local audiences for the first time?
Thrilled! I’ve been floating the idea of bringing Sherlock to life onstage on the East End for over a year. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since seeing Robert Downey Jr.’s screen versions. The challenge was to find scripts/adaptations for the stage that aren’t stodgy and stiff. This one fits the bill. It’s a blast—there’s lots of humor and mystery and it remains true to Holmes’ legacy.
This is a story adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. What makes this tale unique and interesting?
An older Watson tells the tale looking back at his early days with Holmes. For the first time, Watson decides to reveal the shocking story of his friend Holmes’ very first case. Much will be revealed about Sherlock’s secret life. It’s going to be quite a romp.
Why does historical-themed theater appeal to you personally?
I’ve got a personal passion for history, particularly the 19th century. The Victorian era was a challenging time, but was also filled with so much energy and innovation, socially, politically and technologically. It was a time of some amazing breakthroughs in science and exploration. And the private detective was born in the 19th century! Do you know who wrote the first detective novel? Hint—it wasn’t Conan Doyle! Plus, I love the wardrobe of the time. Once again, I’ll be doing the costumes for this production—historically accurate as always, and beautiful, with maybe a hint of steampunk this time just to mix it up!
What will we see in the historical exhibition for this production?
We’ll explore some of the history of the private eye in the 19th century, and some of Conan Doyle’s ties to the East End. His colleague and friend was actor William Gillette, who portrayed Holmes for the first time onstage. His famous home, Gillette Castle, is now a tourist site in Connecticut. Plus, I’ve invited one of the detectives from the Southampton Police Department to talk about detectives then and now in a Q&A after our free matinee for students.
How can people who are interested in contributing to boots on the ground get involved?
Go to scc-arts.org/sherlock and make a donation. Southampton Cultural Center is our presenting partner. We have $5,000 to go [at press time]. Please help support our community theater and keep history alive. Thank you!
For more on Bonnie Grice, boots on the ground theater and their productions, visit bootsonthegroundtheater.com.