Hence These Tears is an original stage play produced by Boston Actors Theater, which serves as a loose prequel to the web series Project Nephailim: Salvation.
Set over the course of a snowy weekend in March, Hence These Tears is primarily the story of the Alessandro Family who have gathered together in the wake of Sarah Alessandro's death from breast cancer. The story is told through the eyes of her estranged son, John Alessandro, a briliant but troubled young man who returns home after a five year absence.
Hence These Tears is divided into two acts with Act One set the day of Sarah Alessandro's death and Act Two set the day of her Funeral. Events that take place between Acts 1 and 2 are mentioned by the characters, but they are not depicted until the Salvation episode Hinc Illae Lacrimae.
The story begins with John recounting his childhood and memories growing up working in his father's store, a retail sewing machine repair shop. Although these memories are pleasent, he recollects on his father's displeasure when John decided not to remain in the family business, rather opting for a career in medical research. Five years have passed since he last saw his family, and it took the impending death of his mother to bring him back.
When John walks into his home, a bouquette of flowers in his hand, his father is happy to see him, but they share few words. In the living room, Sarah sits on the couch knitting. She is painfully frail, and weak. Francesca, John's sister, is seated at her feet reading to her. Overcome by his mother's condition, John can barely speak. With an almost impish grin, Sarah asks him if he's going to just stand there or hug her. Brought back to his senses, John smiles and takes a step towards her, however Francesca quickly takes the flowers from him and throws them away. She reprimands her brother for not considering that the pollen will only make their mother sicker. When John starts to apologize, Francesca welcomes him back by reminding him that they don't have time to get him caught up to speed on all the little "technicalities" he's missed out on. Francesca has clearly become the strength in the family.
When John starts to protest his sister's behavior, Sarah interrups them before an argument breaks out. She sends Peter and Francesca out of the room so she can talk with her son. John begins to apologize, but Sarah tells him she was greatful for the flowers. She asks him if he's okay and, sitting down next to her, he replies that he is not. He asks her the same question and she responds in a similar fashion. He acknowledges that she has a better excuse. Sarah smiles and asks him about work, and he dances past the subject, briefly mentioning that they've been having problems with the research grant, but there's an offer in the works that would resolve the issue. When Sarah asks him about Alisson he grows quiet, admitting that they're taking a break. John stumbles over a token excuse that neither of them know what they really want and he doesn't want to deal with it at the moment. Sarah reminds him that he always sabotages his relationships because he's affraid to get close to people and is terrified of losing a friend. When John denies this, she retorts "Oh really? How's Carol?" refering to his ex-girlfriend who John insists he maintains a close relationship with, however he is unaware that she has recently gotten married.
John admits that he and Alisson had been having problems for a while, and that when Francesca called him, he had just left her without an explanation. Sarah, disappointed in this, reminds him that "all of this is temporary. Unless you give it a home inside you, and then it becomes you." He may not be able to change things in the here and now, but when he eventually goes home, he does have the power to change himself; he always has a choice in life and she hopes that he makes the right one to be who he was meant to be and not what he thinks others want him to be.
from the door and greets the new arrival. The woman, apologizes for disturbing them and asks for John. Renee happily volunteers that he is upstairs, and Erika asks the young woman who she is. The woman smiles and introduces herself as Alisson Daniels, John's girlfriend--something that comes as a surprise to Erika and Renee, as John has never mentioned her. Noticing Alisson's discomfort, Erika remarks that he probably didn't have time with everything going on. She invites Alisson in, taking her coat and offering her a drink. When Alisson declines, Erika insists, remarking that the whole family is there and she'll probably need it. Renee offers to show Alisson a card trick while her sister is out of the room. Alisson plays along, asking the child if someone is getting married. When Renee says no, Alisson asks why she greeted her with "friend of the bride or groom." Renee explains that her brother and some of the other cousins are young, and they don't really understand what's going on. Curious, Alisson asks what is going on and Renee quietly replies that her aunt Sarah is going to die.
Later that afternoon, while John, Francesca and Peter are upstairs with Sarah, Renee Cipriani and her brother Paul are fighting over a deck of playing cards when there is a knock at the door. Renee takes her cards and goes to answer the door, greeting the new arrivial with "Friend of the Bride or Groom?" The woman, slightly confused at this, smiles and asks Renee who she might be. Renee is about to answer when her older sister, Erika shoos her away
Alisson is stunned, admiting to Erika that she had no idea, John never said anything. She admits that they'd been having difficulty lately and Erika replies that her cousin isn't known for his communication skills. Alisson admits that the whole situation just became very awkward, so Erika sits her down and brings her up to speed on the family situation. She explains that Sarah's breast cancer had been in remission for several years, but came back a few months ago and quickly spread to her liver and lungs. John only just found out about it a few months ago and Erika isn't surprised that he didn't mention it to her because of his relationship with the family. Alisson admits that he is often very reserved when it comes to discussing his family. Erika explains that some years ago, Peter had a falling out with his brother, John's uncle, Anthony over a business deal. There are two very different versions of what happened floating around the family, but neither makes anyone look good. Although John and Francesca stood by Peter, a lot of bad blood was the result. The two share stories of tensions in their own families for a bit before Erika asks Alisson how she met John. Alisson explains that they met freshman year, but became close a few years later when she took a self-defense class. Erika seems impressed that he kept at it, since John wasn't known for sticking with anything as a child. Alisson smiles and tells her that John was the one teaching the class. Impressed, Erika turns to her mother, Mary and exclaims that their "little Starbuck is a blackbelt."
Mary, who has been keeping an eye on the kids as well as her mother, is delighted and surprised to hear this. Erika introduces Alisson to her mother who immediatlely embraces John's girlfriend. Taken by surprise, Alisson only manages a timid "Starbuck?" Excited at the chance to relate all of John's most embarasing stories, Mary and Erika sit Alisson down, however, before they can begin, Peter and Francesca enter in tears. Nothing needs to be said. The family gathers together. Sarah Alessandro has died. Alone and apart from the group, John stands at the bottom of the stairs, noticing Alisson for the first time. He silently walks over to her and they embrace, his body shaking as he weeps bitterly.
That evening, John is sitting alone in the living room playing the guitar. Alisson enters and quietly tells him that Dave and Mia send their sympathies. With hesitation in her voice she tells him that she left a message for Xander, then stronger, says she wishes John had said something to her. He cuts her off wondering what he would have said. "That your mother was dying would have been a good start," Alisson replies to which John harshly retorts that she didn't have to come. He stops himself and then quietly thanks her, admitting that he handled things badly. Alisson agrees and says that they can't do this. She doesn't know what's going on in his head, and she shouldn't have had to find out about everything from his cousin. John dismises her with an apology, but Alisson asks him to talk to her. He tells her they don't have anything to talk about and returns to playing the guitar, as Alisson tells him that their problems can wait, he shouldn't have to go through this alone. After a moment, John admits that his father taught him how to play. When Alisson asks if they are close he replies that they haven't been for a very long time. He asks her if she's ever looked at someone and realized they weren't the person you thought they were. "They're not better, they're not worse. They're just different." Alisson looks up at him and quietly says that she has. John regrets that he can't talk to his father without arguing all the time, and wishes he could because Peter is all he has left.
Alisson moves to him and suggest he not think about it right now, that he should play her something. Taking the guitar he begins to play, singing a deeply moving piece. Alisson draws closer, but after a few moments he abruptly stops, saying he doesn't remember the rest. He gets up and puts the guitar away, telling her that he just wants to go to bed. Alisson stops him and takes him back to the couch, admitting that they had both said and done things that had made the situation more complicated, but they weren't going to get anywhere by running away from it. She begins to talk about her father, "a great big Irish guy" who used to sing to her whenever she was sad. Her favorite song was Do Wah Diddy, which, much to John's chagrin she begins to sing. Badly. Yet she convinces him to join in, and the two sit there singing, badly, and for a brief moment, John begins to smile. Until they are interrupted by Francesca, demanding that they keep it down.
John snaps at his sister, asking if she's enjoying herself. Francesca reminds him that he's not the only one who lost someone that afternoon, to which John pointedly asks her when exactly she became such a bitch. "A lot changes in five years, John. It might not be such a bad idea if you remember that," she retorts before storming out. John heads after her, but Alisson stops him suggesting that they all get some rest. Fighting back anger, John asks to be left alone. When Alisson tries to calm him down, he grabs a pillow off the couch and hurls it across the room, knocking a lamp off the table, breaking it. Quietly he tells her he just wants to be alone. Alisson nods and starts to leave but stops and asks him if he remembered how they met. He says that she borrowed a CD from him, to which she replies that no, she borrowed Phantom of the Opera from him. When he asks what her point is she responds, "after that, do you really think anything you say will make me think less of you?"John insists that if he ever really got to know him she wouldn't think he was a good person. Surprised at this, Alisson asks why he would say something like that. John eventually admits that he doesn't consider himself a good person because he can't remember Sarah. He's spent so much time trying to be his own person, and prove to his family that he's something better than what they see him as, he wasn't there for her and now he never can be. Realizing the depth of his grief and the guilt he feels, Alisson sets aside the issues between them and comforts him. She refuses to believe that he doesn't remember Sarah and makes him tell her about his mother, who, she reminds him, she has never met. The two fall asleep in each other's arms to stories of John's childhood and the mother who raised him.
The next afternoon, while John and his family are at the funeral home, Alexander shows up at the front door, having received Alisson's message. Although sympathetic to his friend's situation, he is quick to remind her that she had every intention of leaving him. When Alisson begins to argue a case for John given the circumstances, Alexander accuses her of doing to him what John did to her: Leaving without an explanation. Growing angry, Alisson snaps that this isn't the time to discuss this, but Alexander pushes, demanding to know when is. Realizing he's crossed a line, he apologizes and asks how John is coping with his mother's death. Although she doesn't elaborate on their conversation from the previous night, she admits that he is not taking it well and he needs her right now. Alexander cautions her about confusing her sympathy for his loss, with a belief that John has changed. He asks if she's told him yet and she replies that she has not, admitting that now is not the best time to tell him she's leaving him for Alexander. When Alexander says that John may love her, but she will never be important to him, Alisson asks him to leave. He agrees, but not before pushing her to consider his request.
That evening Francesca finds her father asleep on the couch. He awakens with a start, concerned that he forgot to get Sarah her pain medication, however, looking into his daughter's pained expression, he realizes that he no longer has to do that. He thanks her for everything she has done and tells her he loves her. Francesca smiles and sends him up to bed. As she cleans up from the day she is overtaken by a memory of her mother at christmas when she and John were young.
The two children argue about christmas lights while a young and vibrant Sarah Alessandro watches. While John is insistent that they put colored lights in the windows, Sarah and Francesca counter that only white lights will do beacuse white is more elegant. During this conversation, as John is wondering why his father is staying late at work again, Peter sneaks up behind Sarah and surprises her with a kiss. She asks how he was able to get away from work and he replies that his father and brother were watching the store so he could spend Christmas with his family. Peter turns to Francesca and tells her to never go into retail at christmas. The young girl smiles and smartly informs him she wants to be a teacher, because they get summer off. John looks up from the tangle of lights and offers to help Peter at the store. Peter thinks for a moment before offering to let him come in and help take inventory, promising that if he does a good job, he’d teach him how to repair a sewing machine motor. Sarah leans over and kisses her husband, surprising him. When he playfully asks what that was for, she tells him that she’s been missing him. They kiss again, sending the kids off to get cleaned up for dinner. Peter soon follows, leaving Sarah to tidy up.
Alone with the memory of her mother, Francesca takes a step towards Sarah, but stops as the younger version of herself runs up to Sarah and hugs her. Sarah smiles and looks down at her daughter, asking what that was for. Both versions of Francesca reply, as Peter did moments ago: “Been missing you.”
The memory fades, leaving Francesca alone, overcome with grief. She begins to cry…
The act begins by flashing back several days before the events of the play. Alexander and Alisson return from a romantic evening and are relaxing on her couch, recounting how they first met in Crane's Bay. How as children, they used to play hide and seak in her parent's old cabin, and how they imagined they would rescue her cat (Mr Bubbles) who'd been captured (by communists). When she wishes they could go back there, Alexander suggests that they should go right then and there. When Alisson laughs at this, Alexander explains that he's been offered a teaching position and he wants her to come with him, however Alisson admits that she still has feelings for John. Upset, Alexander leaves, but not before reminding her of how badly she has been treated by John and asking her to at least consider his offer. This is the offer that he previously mentioned in Act 1.
In the present, the family returns from Sarah's funeral
(Argument with Alisson)
(Argument with Alexander)
(COnversation with Carol)
(Father and Son)
(Brother and Sister)
(John and Alisson)
John explains that when he was younger, at Francesca's christening, when the priest asked all the children to come up to the altar and introduce themselves, in front of god, his family and the whole church, he proudly announced that his name was Starbuck... Because he really liked Battlestar Galactica. Alisson is thoroughly amused but states that she thought Starbuck was a girl, to which John emphatically replies "not originally."
John asks her if she loves Alexander and, after a moment, she quietly replies that she does. He asks if she still loves him and she says she does which John doesn't understand. When Alisson tells him that her realtionship with Alexander was something that just happened he becomes angry, but Alisson stops him before he can argue, reminding him that he was the one who left her
Willing to make a new start of things, Alisson joins John and heads back into the house to meet his family.
But not before calling him Starbuck.
- John Alessandro - Jonathan Overby
- Alisson Daniels - Jennifer Reagan
- Alexander Weir - Andrew Rhodes
- Francesca Alessandro - Christy Corcoran
- Sarah Alessandro - Penny Benson
- Peter Alessandro - Gary Ciambrone
- Renee Cipriani - Rachel Padell
- Paul Cipriani - Carlos Rojas
- Erika Cipriani - Nora Lis Henderson
- Mary Cipriani - Maureen Aducci
- Carol Green - Erin Scanlon
- Antonia Alessandro - Fran Renehan
Director - Vincent C. Morreale
Writer - Vincent C. Morreale
Stage Manager - John Aslanian
Understudy - Jennifer Pici, Amanda Kelly, Jonathan Sacramone
- Although originally produced independantly of the Project Nephilim Series, there are a number of connections to the universe in which the series takes place, with many of the characters playing a significant role in the larger series.
- Early on, John mentions that he has been having difficulty with his research grant. In Salvation it is revealed that his grant was bought out by The Dabareh Corporation.
- During an argument with his sister, Francesca, she mentions a previous girlfriend of his named Adenine. Adenine Perry appears in the final episode of Salvation as his assistant and an integral part of the mystery surrounding Melissa Weller's death.
- Although it's never explicitly stated, Carol Green is the sister of Molly, who discovered Melissa Weller's body. Carol also states that her husband "couldn't make it out of San Jose"-- An in-joke as in the larger continuity San Jose, California was destroyed. This event is not mentioned in Hence These Tears, as it was unecessary to the main storyline of the play.
- When asked who he's currently dating, Alexander, who is having an affair with Alisson panics and replies, Melissa Weller. During the events of Salvation, Alexander mentions that, while they were very close friends during this time period, they did not start dating until after they met up again in Boston, some time after the events of Hence These Tears, but prior to Salvation.
- E.T. When reflecting on his childhood, John remarks about a time when his mother came in to tuck him into bed and they startled each other. He describes the moment as being similar to the famous scene when Gertie discovers E.T. and the two scream.
- Shel Silverstine: John reads from Where The Sidewalk Ends, as his mother is dying.
- The Rainbow Connection: John reflects on it being Sarah's favorite song, and that when he was sick she would hold his hand and sing it to him. The song is also played during the curtain call at the end.
- Domenic the Donkey: Antonia references the famous novelty song in defense of her smoking, claiming she's as strong as Domenic ever was. This prompts Mary to quip, "if he smoked half as much as you, he'd never have made it over the hills of Italy."
- Phantom of the Opera: John and Alisson first met in college when she borrowed the soundtrack from him to prepare for an audition.
- Battlestar Galactica: John's family call him Starbuck. It's later revealed that, as a child, he stood up in church and told everyone that was his name because he loved the original series. When Alisson is confused, since Starbuck is a girl, John steps up and emphatically defends Dirk Bennedict's original version of the character.
The play was generally considered a sucess, and sold out most nights during its run. Critically it received mixed reviews, with the Boston Metro slamming it for being melodramatic, dull and, curiously, "not Italian enough."
Larry Stark, of Boston's Theatre Mirror, however, raved that it was crisply paced, finely acted and crackling with loving wit.
- Music for the stage production consisted of two original pieces written and performed by Morgan Ryan, with additional vocals by Heidi Nelson.
- Additionally, a cover of the song Rainbow Connection, was written exclusively for the Boston premiere. Due to obvious copyright issues, this song has not been included on any subsequent performances, or on the soundtrack.
- Actor Jonathan Overby also contributed an original piece during a scene in which his character plays the guitar.
A production DVD was produced and made available to cast and crew folowing the run of the original show. Produced by Izabell Garcia and Paul Neff, the DVD contained a full length dress rehearsal performance, as well as a number of rehearsal outtakes. Due to the difficulty of videotaping a live production, audio quality varied on the DVD and as such has not been released to the general public. It may, however, be included in the Collectors Edition of Project Nephilim: Salvation.
During the production of Project Nephilim: Salvation, a number of scenes from the play were re-written to serve as flashbacks in the 4th Episode, Hinc Illae Lacrimae (Hence These Tears in Latin). Included in the episode were scenes between Alexander Weir and Alisson Daniels, as well as a scene with John. Additional footage was shot offering a stronger connection between John's grant issues and his eventual involvement with the Dabareh Corporation.
A third scene taking place at the funeral between Weir and Peter Alessandro was written specifically for Salvation. Although it was mentioned, this new sequence took place between the first and secon acts of the play, and reunited a number of the original stage cast. Although there are currently no definitive plans for a full on remake, the involvement of the Alessandro Storyline in the upcoming sequel, and the importance of several events in the play makes the notion of a film remake a distinct possibility.