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.
In our current political times, Cindy believes our democracy is at risk. The Hand That Holds The Quill is her effort to fight for the ideals engrossed on four pages of parchment. Elected officials pledge loyalty to the Constitution, not an individual.
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 engage, educate, challenge and, yes, entertain 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 Dlugolecki’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.
Dlugolecki’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; two plays are published. Her works have earned both national and international recognition.