The Whistler

Sometimes there’s no difference between a man and his gun.

Set in a North Carolina city in the fall of 1965, The Whistler is a redemption story about a man who wants to die. If he doesn’t, it will be because he finally meets someone with a heart as pure and terrible as his own.

Eighteen years ago, Henry Hunter killed his brother in a hunting accident and allowed his father to take the blame. Now it’s 1965 and Henry has become a professional whistler who lives in a circle of fire, troubled by how much his son reminds him of himself and resentful of his wife’s career as a page-turner. As race riots sweep through downtown, an edgy Black musician tries to coach him on what redemption might look like—or sound like—before Henry’s gun starts doing the talking.

Top Ten Lines You Don’t Want to Hear

from The Whistler

  1. Even a woman could drive it.
  2. I could be available for sex for the next hour.
  3. There’s an angel on your house!
  4. You think a colored man should get minimum wage because he’s descended from Thomas Jefferson?
  5. Know him? I got fired by him. Lots of times.
  6. What hostility?
  7. Eating shit? One gets used to it. Sir.
  8. You got a gun?
  9. The hardest part was watching you die.
  10. It’s not easy to forget scrubbing your father’s guts off the walls—something I hope my son never has to do.

Music for The Whistler

Composer Glenn Mehrbach created some stunning incidental music for the play.  Here is a short excerpt from his “Dies Irae Variations” played on synthesized cello and piano; you can imagine how much more powerful and lyrical this will be on real instruments.

Dies Irae excerpt


Production history
Premiered May 24, 2012-June 10, 2012 at the Speakeasy Theatre on Race, 815 Race Street, Cincinnati.

Table reading at the Clifton Performance Theater (Cincinnati, OH) in October 2011.

Staged reading of twelve-minute scene at Arts Center (Carrboro, NC), Burning Coal Theatre (Raleigh, NC), and Common Ground Theater (Durham, NC) as part of Love! Sex! Violence! Laughter! A Sampling of North Carolina Playwrights. Produced by PlayGround Theatre Co-operative (January 2011).

Whistlin' Tom

“Whistlin’ Tom” of Key West, Florida–whose tone and artistry may well be those of the play’s protagonist, Henry Hunter– generously allowed us to use performances from his CD for our production.


Click on the photo below for a three-minute trailer. It asks you for money but relax, the campaign’s over with–I just thought you might enjoy meeting the characters!


First (secret) update