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Programme coverThe Scarlet Letter

Book, Music and Lyrics by Anne Dalton. Adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorn.


"The Scarlet Letter" opens as a New England town awaits the arrival on the pillory scaffold of Hester Prynne, the heroine. She is being punished for adultery and has steadfastly refused to disclose the name of her lover. As she stands on the pillory for public ridicule her elderly husband, whom she believed dead for several years, arrives at the town. Seeing her shame, he keeps his own identity secret and adopts the name of Chillingworth.

He visits Hester during her term of imprisonment and makes her swear not to reveal his identity. He vows to himself that he will seek out and devise his own fitting punishment for her lover. Hester and Pearl, her illegitimate child, live apart from the others and Hester supports them both with her exquisite needlework. The scarlet letter 'A' which she is forced to wear as a sign of her sin, is richly and beautifully embroidered in defiance and Pearl's clothing is exotically decorated with beautiful examples of the world of nature.

Hester's lover has still not confessed and whilst retaining her deep love for the man, she becomes fiercly independent and courageous. In time however, Hester's sympathetic nature and charitable works are such that the origin of the letter 'A' is almost forgotten. Slowly we realise that her lover is none other than the town's young and very dedicated minister, Reverend Dimmesdale. Chillingworth also arrives at the same conclusion and feigns friendship for him as he feeds his revenge with a slow, subtle torture of Dimmesdale' s conscience. He is so successful that the minister's mental and physical health deteriorates.

Watching Chillingworth's destruction of the man she loves, Hester decides to break her oath and warn Dimmesdale of her husband's true nature and purpose. They meet in the forest and their love revives. Hester persuades Dimmesdale that their only chance of freedom lies in running away from Puritan Massachusetts to the England of her childhood. They decide to leave after Dimmesdale's sermon for the inauguration of the colony's new governor, a most important day in the Puritan calendar.

Hester and Pearl wait for him outside the church but Dimmesdale's final battle with his conscience forces him into confession rather than escape. Almost in a state of collapse, he mounts the pillory scaffold supported by Hester and Pearl and confesses his guilt to the horrified and grief stricken community. He dies in Hester's arms and denies Chillingworth his ultimate revenge.


  • Hester Prynne
  • Pearl
  • Chillingworth
  • Dimmesdale
  • Henry Barker
  • Rachel Ruddock
  • David Fuller
  • Francis Clifton
  • Beth Cornley
  • Elizabeth Wilson
  • Paul Ruddock
  • Mary Bellingham
  • John Bellingham
  • Robert Fuller
  • Beadle
  • Honour Ruddock
  • James Winslow
  • Jane Winslow
  • Mistress Fairley
  • Toka, an Indian
  • Gaoler
  • Sea Captain
  • Andrew Rumble
  • Mistress Rightways
  • Samuel Rumble
  • Mistress Rumble
  • Governor Bellingham
  • Mistress Hibbins
  • Peter Comley
  • Jane Comley
  • Jonathan Cornley
  • Rose Cornley
  • Reverend Wilson
  • Rebecca Wilson
  • Harriet Fuller
  • Mistress Quellstone
  • Widow Woodfall
  • Christopher Woodfall
  • Mary Clifton
  • Emma Clifton
  • Adam Clifton

Indian Children, Ragged Children and Villagers

Scenes & Settings

Act One

Act Two