The Hand That Holds The Quill
The Hand That Holds The Quill–on its way to being re-titled and re-branded as QUILL-adelphia–is a musical 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? QUILL-adelphia shares 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 musical shines a light on Jacob Shallus and his family, the main character of the play is 1787 Philadelphia and the building now known as Independence Hall, where Jacob works. Jacob is among Philadelphia’s middle-class citizens struggling to make ends meet. Just as it did in 1776, Philadelphia welcomes white and wealthy delegates to a convention–this time post-war and along with their white and wealthy wives. Freed Africans also populate Philadelphia, and–led by Absalom Jones–they are calling for abolition of slavery. QUILL-adelphia brings all these people together to debate the most controversial issue of 1787.
The Constitution is not perfect; nor are the men who drafted it. QUILL-adelphia makes these thoughts abundantly clear. But as the 250th anniversary of the United States of America approaches in 2026, the theatre world needs QUILL-adelphia to challenge, engage, educate, and entertain (with music!) the electorate. Cindy is looking for a theatre to workshop QUILL-adelphia. 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. QUILL-adelphia, formerly known as The Hand That Holds The Quill, is the latest project in Cindy’s long writing career. Now age 74, 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 21 plays of various lengths—10-minute plays, one- and two-act scripts, and two collections 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 and eclectic scores for both Into the Desert and QUILL-adlephia. 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.