Study the Past
The Way to Study the Past is not to confine oneself to mere Knowledge of History but,
through application of this knowledge: To Give Actuality to the Past.
from the I Ching or Book of Changes
Richard Wilhelm translation, 1950
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JIM COOKE was born in Montpelier, Vermont during the March Flood of 1936. In the record books of Vermont weather this deluge is recalled as the “Double Flood” and is considered the greatest natural disaster to visit the Connecticut River Valley. Go figure . . .
From age three to nine Mr. Cooke lived on his grandparents' farm where his first three grades were at the local one-room school. Subsequently, his education has gone steadily and decidedly downhill—though he somehow managed to obtain a BA in English Literature from the University of New Hampshire and, later, an MA in Theatre from Emerson College where he taught for some years. He taught as well at Boston University and Regis College. He spent two years in the US Army at a guided missile site in rural Maryland. His two marriages resulted in five children; he has five granddaughters and lives in Quincy, Massachusetts, with two cats and a rat.
Before solo history captured his focus and attention Cooke acted and directed in summer stock as well as at many Boston area theaters. He toured New England in an ensemble production of "The Devil and Daniel Webster" playing Mr. Scratch—the Devil. Other favorite roles have been James Tyrone, Jr., in Eugene O’Neill’s “A Long Day's Journey into Night” and the Stage Manager in a Wheelock Family Theater production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”
In 1975 he was cast as Calvin Coolidge in an alternative theater production of a new play, “The Calvin Coolidge Follies.” This resulted in a Boston Phoenix nod as one of the ten best performances of the year. In 1985 Cooke presented his first solo history performance—“Calvin Coolidge: More Than Two Words.” This was soon followed by “Daniel Webster: I Still Live!” Then, “Edward Everett: The Other Speaker at Gettysburg.” His newest solo is—“John Quincy Adams: A Spirit Unconquerable!” These four men make up a quartet of Cranky Yankees. Today, only money could tempt him to take on yet another character. Four is too much—too many!
Solo history has taken Cooke around the country to Presidential Libraries, the National Archives, the Library of Congress and Mount Rushmore. You may have seen him on C-SPAN or heard him on NPR. In 2007, the State Department sent him in his persona of John Quincy Adams to Russia in observance of the bicentennial of our countries’ diplomatic relations. (JQA was our first Minister to Russia.) This ten-day, four-city tour included Moscow and St. Petersburg.
In 1987 Cooke convened “SoloTogether” at the JFK Library. The purpose of this conference was to bring solo actors together in a spirit of cooperation. Today: SoloTogether exists as an informal social and support organization of nearly 40 members meeting three or four times a year. See our website at: www.solotogether.com.
313 Granite Street
Quincy, MA 02169