Black Tom Island Comes To Kean

Premiere Stages presents a play on the first terrorist attack on American soil

Campus News > Black Tom Island Comes To Kean
Black Tom Island Comes To Kean

Playwright and renown actor Martin Casella presents his powerful play about a Slovak immigrant whose wife may have been involved in the conspiracy behind the first terrorist attack on American soil.

Brandon Gervais, Editor

From Thursday, Oct. 11 to Sunday, Oct. 21 at Liberty Hall Museum, Premiere Stages at Kean University will present Martin Casella's Black Tom Island. 

Black Tom Island is a play based on the first recorded terrorist attack on American soil in 1916 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Taking place in Liberty Hall Museum's 1882 Carriage House, Black Tom Island further pursues Premiere Stages and Liberty Hall Museum's joint goal of educating the community of New Jersey's unique and extensive history. 

“While the attack on Black Tom Island happened 100 years ago, the play’s subject matter is surprisingly topical,” stated John J. Wooten, founder and producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. “And what makes Marty’s study of an immigrant couple’s acclimation to America all the more fascinating is that it is based on a true story, and it is effectively dramatized against the backdrop of a lost New Jersey island.” 

Wooten works as the producing artistic director at Premiere Stages and has produced, directed and developed many amazing works including The Beautiful Dark, The Good Counselor and Follow Me to Nellie’s. The listed works have all been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association. Early this year, Wooten directed the critically acclaimed premiere of Craig Garcia’s Linger, winner of the 2018 Premiere Play Festival. 

The play was written by actor and writer Martin Casella, best known for his role in the original Poltergeist. Casella is a successful name in the film and TV industries, working and writing for projects on HBO, CBS, ABC, Disney, Universal, and Warner Brothers. Casella’s plays include The ReportBeautiful Dreamer, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) nominated The Irish Curse. His most recent achievement is the teleplay for the film The Land of Sometimes

The audience of this remarkable show will be offered an opportunity to interact with the subject with a pre-show discussion of the events with Bill Schroh, Jr., Liberty Hall’s Director of Museum Operations, on Oct. 13 at 5 p.m., and a post-show discussion with Mr. Casella following the performance on Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. Audience members who are attending the matinee performances of Black Tom Island Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 can also enjoy a free tour of the museum’s first floor.

Premiere Stages works with Kean University to provide the Kean community with performances that help to educate students on local history as well as exploring other cultures. The cast of Black Tom Island will feature an accomplished cast of actors with extensive successful resumes including Damian Buzzerio, Mason Hensley, Bart Shatto and Jenna Krasowski.  

Tickets are available at the Premiere Stages website costing $15 for students and disabled persons, $20 for senior citizen, Kean alumni and staff and $30 for general public. Groups of eight or more can apply for discounted group tickets on the Premiere Stage website. To purchase, please call the box office at (908) 737-7469 or visit Premiere Stages online. 

Tickets are also available for Premiere Stages’ exclusive Black Tom Island Opening Night Party Friday, Oct. 12. This event begins at 6 p.m. with live music and refreshments. During this opening night party event, patrons are welcome to explore a Liberty Hall Museum candlelit tour at 7 p.m. 

Following the opening night performance at 8 p.m., the evenings festivities will conclude with a champagne toast and dessert reception with the cast and creative team. Proceeds from the evening will benefit future programming, supporting emerging artists and plays. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased by calling (908) 737-7469 or emailing

about the author

Brandon Gervais, Editor

Brandon Gervais is a junior English education double major. Brandon works as an Editor for The Cougar’s Byte and originally joined the staff as a Staff Writer in November 2017. He is a part of the Leadership Institute as a Gold leader and has worked as a New Student Orientation Leader. In his free time, he is a performer for a world class independent competitive color guard team and coaches the Union High School Color Guard.