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A Puritan Walks Into A Bar

Photo: Joshua Giant

by Steve Desroches

When it comes to the Provincetown Art Colony one of, if not the most important elements that allows it to thrive is a respect and support for imagination. No idea is too outlandish, no journey of the mind not worth taking. That’s evident on the canvas, in sculpture, film, and photography. But it’s also clearly at play on the stages of Provincetown where the avant-garde, outlandish, wild, and, since the word unique is overused to the point of dilution, its worth using the redundant truly unique. In the 1940s German dancer and actress Valeska Gert performed in Provincetown, presenting shows that were so outrageous, including bits like faking a five-minute long orgasm she is now considered a pioneering performance artist and the Godmother of Punk. Allan Lozito took to the stages of town in the 1970s looking like a Christmas tree that attacked a clown in his ahead of their time drag shows. Dina Martina arrived in 2004 like an alien from another planet, quite literally as she walked Commercial Street in an astronaut suit as she went from delightful oddity to an unrivaled creative force. They were all able to succeed as the culture of Provincetown and its audiences gives performers room and time without dismissing what isn’t easily understood upon first sight. Such is the case with Anne Hutchinson, a comedic and at the same time informative, creation of Brent Thomas.

It was in 2019 that people began to notice someone walking the streets of Provincetown in colonial drag with striking yet minimal make up and a face framed by a white coif. Even on Commercial Street, which is a daily festival of humanity in all its forms, Anne stuck out. As a history buff and a burgeoning stand-up comic Thomas was reading the book American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans. Hutchinson was a Puritan spiritual advisor and religious reformer whose views defied the establishment views in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630s, causing a rift that would eventually lead to her and her followers being banished to what is now Rhode Island. The mother of 15 children remained a wildly popular and controversial figure in colonial life, which was unusual for women in that time and culture. She became an outsider amongst outsiders, which Thomas thought was perfect for Provincetown. So, he created the character, mixing a touch of drag with stand-up, and started giving comedic historical tours of town, which he still does, before taking Hutchinson to the stage.

“It just sounded like a character that would work in drag,” says Thomas. “Her critics at time said she’d ‘rather been a husband than a wife and a preacher than a hearer; and a magistrate than a subject.’ She challenged gender roles and conventions and that’s what I’m doing as I dress as a woman though I was born a man, biologically at least.”

Thomas debuted Hutchinson in Boston, but its here in Provincetown where she really took off. On paper it might sound like a hard sell—a colonial-era character stand-up act based on a woman who was a Puritanical rebel 400 years ago, who was eventually massacred by Native Americans along with her family. But in action, it’s hilarious. Thomas breezily adapts the cadence and demeanor of a colonial figure with the sharp wit and satirical wisdom of today as Hutchinson dives into the issues of modern-day Provincetown for inspiration. Gentrification, competitive consumption, and elitism have never been funnier as is evident at her stand-up show Anne Hutchinson’s Conventicles (a word meaning an illegal or underground religious meeting). Hutchinson is the latest phenomenon to present something fresh and wholly unseen before on these shores.

“Four hundred years ago Anne said things women weren’t supposed to say, outrageous things challenging the status quo, and she said them out loud at her weekly meetings, the conventicles,” says Thomas. “I think she’d fit in quite well in Provincetown as an outsider. And that’s what I’m doing, saying outrageous things and challenging the powers that be and making people laugh in the process.”

Anne Hutchinson’s Conventicles is every Thursday at 9 p.m. at the Crown & Anchor, 247 Commercial St. now through September 21. Tickets ($25) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.1430. Anne Hutchinson’s walking tours of Provincetown start at 3:30 p.m. beginning and ending at the Crown & Anchor. Advanced reservations are required and made be made through Tripadvisor. Tours are $30 per person.

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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