The Ties That Bind

September 8, 2022 - September 17, 2022

Produced by Dirt Road Theater @ First Universalist Church of Barre

19 Church Street, Barre, VT, USA


Behind the scenes

Tamar Cole (Playwright), Dominic Spillane (Director), & Otto Muller (Composer / Sound Designer)


Chris Caswell, K Shaw, & Maren Langdon Spillane

Performance Type



DIRT ROAD THEATER is thrilled to present the world premiere of The Ties That Bind by Vermont playwright Tamar Cole. Directed by Dominic Spillane and starring Chris Caswell, Kate Shaw, and Maren Langdon Spillane.

SEPT 8 - 17, 2022 @ The First Universalist Church in Barre (19 Church St, Barre, VT)

General Admission $20 | Pay-What-You-Can Thursdays (box office only).

Past injuries, unresolved tensions, and current needs are all at stake for Rachel, ex-wife; Sasha, 16-year-old-daughter; and Kathryn, girlfriend; to Robert, a successful writer and longtime high functioning alcoholic. After too many drinks at a book party, Robert ends up in a life threatening coma. The three women are confined to a private waiting room just outside Robert's hospital bed where they grapple with what to do, who's to blame, and how to relate to one another during this inevitable yet unplanned crossroads.

DIRT ROAD THEATER is a new theater company based in Northfield, VT, founded by Dominic and Maren Spillane. With a passion for original work, DRT's mission is centered around creating theater that explores the joys, struggles, and imagination of our everyday lives. We wholeheartedly believe in the power of theater-making and story-telling as a tool for building whole, healthy people, relationships, and communities. The Ties The Bind by Tamar Cole is Dirt Road Theater's inaugural "main stage" production. Other works include the youth summer camp performances of the original play Mother Goose Portal and Camp Sunshine by Maren Langdon Spillane with music by Savannah Yates, and the episodic family podcast, Fairies and Dragons, Ponies and Knights entering its third season. Throughout the year Dirt Road Theater offers camps, classes, and other educational opportunities for kids and adults. For more information visit dirtroadtheater.com.

TAMAR COLE (Playwright) has written for the stage, screen and television. In addition to The Ties That Bind, she was a finalist at the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference with Rhymes and Reasons and has written four additional plays: Limited Partners, Nothing But The Truth, What?, and Variations On A Theme, for which she received a fellowship at the CAP21 Theater Residency in New York City. Screenplays include: an original, Living Conditions, optioned by, and developed for, Helen Mirren; The Good Life, adapted from a novel by George Dennison, Director/Producer Nigel Noble, and Producer Steve Schmidt; and All The Way Home, adapted from a short story As Much As I Know by Susan Thames, Producer John Hoffman, and Director/Producer Nigel Noble. She has also written for TV on General Hospital, and is co-creator with Kristina Lear of The System, a TV series about foster care and the Department of Children and Families, currently in development. She is thrilled The Ties That Bind is being produced by Dirt Road Theater.

DOMINIC SPILLANE (Director) is an actor, director, producer, and co-founder of Dirt Road Theater with Maren Langdon Spillane. Past directing credits include the original plays Bea Arthur and Knights of the Round Table by Joe Tracz [Ars Nova, NYC], Joan’s Boutique by Charlotte Miller [The Spectrum, NYC], Talk To Moi Amer-i-ca by Stacy Davidowitz [#serials at The Flea, NYC], The New Trevor and Bachelorette (one-act) by Leslye Headland [Working Stage, LA]. Dominic is the co-founder of the hit late night show #serials at The Flea currently in its 11th year running at The Flea Theater in NYC, co-writer and producer of Dirt Road Theater’s family podcast, Fairies and Dragons, Ponies and Knights, and founder of the performing arts website TheaterEngine. Dominic has a passion for original stories and original theater. Having the opportunity to work with Tamar Cole on the world premiere of her play The Ties That Bind is a great pleasure and a deep privilege. It is for this kind of work that Dominic and Maren began Dirt Road Theater, and are excited to bring more great original stories to Vermont.

CHRIS CASWELL (Rachel) is very grateful to Dirt Road Theater for this opportunity to perform in Tamar Cole’s original play. As a long-term NYC escapee, Chris has had the honor of working on Vermont stages for 17 years now. Recent productions include Vermont Stage’s Annapurna and The Thin Place, Vermont Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare: Completely Unbound!, Bald Mountain Theater’s Tales From Japan, and Stealing From Work’s Something Old, Something New, Nothing Borrowed, Often Blue. Just before the pandemic, Chris performed in Middlebury Acting Company’s Much Ado About Nothing and with Stealing From Work in both From Russia With Likesas well as at the Women In Comedy festival in Boston. Pandemic projects include Brave New Classics’ virtual production of Sex, 33 episodes of @interviewminutewpeanut, and an experiment in 2D animation, which led to the inclusion of Chris’ animated shorts & Gretel Hansel and KinRumpelStilts in the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s event An Afternoon/Night At The Movies with music by Patricia Julien.

KATE SHAW (Sasha) is a Vermont-based actor in her senior year at Northern Vermont University- Johnson studying Theater & Drama. Some of Kate’s favorite past productions include Antigone: Red Feed | Blue Feed, Nine, Macbeth, The Cripple Of Inishmaan, and Into the Woods. This summer Kate performed as Buddy in Elf with Lamoille County Players, and directly after The Ties That Bind Kate can be seen in Stowe Theatre Guild’s production of A Little Night Music.

MAREN LANGDON SPILLANE (Kathryn) is co-founder of Dirt Road Theater. She has lived and worked as an actor in New York City, where her credits include world premieres of Itamar Moses' Love/Stories (Or, But You Will Get Used to it), A.R. Gurney's Office Hours, and Nick Jones' The Wundelsteipen (and Other Difficult Roles for Young People) [The Flea Theater, NYC], The Tenant [Woodshed Theater Company, NYC], and Three Sisters [Williamstown Theatre Festival, MA]. She is now happily settled back in Vermont, where she homeschools her kids and teaches acting on the side. VT credits include Gruesome Playground Injuries [Phantom Theater, Lost Nation Theater], Constellations [Phantom Theater, Open Door Theater, Greenroom Productions], Much Ado About Nothing (Middlebury Acting Company), Much Ado About Nothing (Stowe Theatre Guild), Twelfth Night (Unadilla Theater), and staged readings of Pieces Of and JORDAN [Northern Stage]. Maren is also the host and narrator of Dirt Road Theater’s episodic family podcast Fairies and Dragons, Ponies and Knights entering its third season.

MARILYN SKOGLUND (Nurse) worked as an Assistant Attorney General for Vermont for seventeen years before being appointed a Superior Court Judge in Vermont’s trial courts. In 1997, she was elevated to the Vermont Supreme Court where she sat for twenty-two years. Meanwhile, she appeared in several seasons of the Groundhog Opry, singing her heart out. 

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"The intensity that gives this play its power never flags... Dirt Road Theater, led by the Spillanes, has scored a real hit for serious straight theater with its debut production. We’re ready for more, much more."

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Jim Lowe

- The Times Argus



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