The Hand That Holds The Quill

The Hand That Holds The Quill is a play with an original and eclectic score (composed by Chris Purcell) about the 1787 Constitutional Convention and the man chosen to engross the  document that articulates the tenets of American democracy.

Who is Jacob Shallus and how did Jacob Shallus, son of a German immigrant and a humble assistant clerk in the Pennsylvania State Assembly, become the man chosen to put pen to parchment? The Hand That Holds the Quill is Jacob’s story. The Man Behind the Quill, a biography about Jacob Shallus by Arthur Plotnik, inspired the musical’s book and lyrics. It should be noted that Jacob Shallus is the playwright’s first cousin six times removed. 

Although the play centers on Jacob Shallus and his family, the main character of the play is 1787 Philadelphia. Jacob is among the city’s middle-class citizens struggling to make ends meet. Philadelphia welcomes white and wealthy convention delegates to town, along with their white and wealthy wives. Freed Africans also populate the city, and–led by Absalom Jones–they are calling for abolition of slavery. The Hand That Holds The Quill brings all these people together in one place to debate the most controversial issue of 1787.

The Constitution is not perfect; nor are the men who drafted it. The Hand That Holds The Quill makes these thoughts abundantly clear. But as the 250th  anniversary of the United States of America approaches in 2026, the theatre world needs The Hand That Holds The Quill to challenge, engage, educate,  and entertain (the music will make folks smile and tap their feet) the electorate. Cindy is looking for a theatre in or around Philadelphia  to workshop The Hand That Holds The Quill. Please contact her with any questions, suggestions, or requests for script samples. 

Meet Cindy Rock Dlugolecki

Cindy Rock Dlugolecki is a playwright who resides in Mechanicsburg, PA. The Hand That Holds The Quill is the latest project in Cindy’s long writing career. Now age 72, she began writing in a high school journalism class and never stopped. While juggling marriage, motherhood, and teaching high school English and creative writing, she attended playwriting workshops and earned her master’s degree in creative writing from Wilkes University.

Cindy’s credits include 18 plays of various lengths—10-minute plays, one- and two-act scripts, and a collection of monologues—mostly produced in central Pennsylvania theatres; one play has had productions in western and eastern PA; two plays are published and have had out-of-state productions. Her works have earned both national and international recognition.

For those works that need music, Cindy teams up with award-winning composer and musician Chris Purcell. Chris has composed toe-tapping scores for both Into the Desert and The Hand That Holds the Quill. The soulful score for Violet Oakley Unveiled contrasts with the three quirky songs Chris created for Royal Tea. Chris’ music and Cindy’s lyrics make a magical combination.

Works