The Robsham Theater Arts Center spring schedule – which begins tonight with “Almost, Maine” – will feature “Learning How to Drown,” an original musical by accomplished New York City-based actor, singer, writer and 2007 alumna and Presidential Scholar Patricia Noonan.
“Almost, Maine,” by John Cariani, will be performed in Robsham’s Bonn Studio at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The Theatre Department Workshop Production is directed by Ryan Cooper ’16.
The nine short plays in “Almost, Maine” explore love and loss in the remote, mythical almost-town of Almost, Maine. Its 2004 premiere, at the Portland Stage Company in Maine, broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim.
Noonan’s “Learning How to Drown,” a Theatre Department/RTAC production, comes to Robsham Feb. 17-20 at 7:30 p.m., and on Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Bonn Studio. Inspired by the Irish myth of the Selkies – seal people who can shed their skin and become human – “Learning How to Drown” takes the audience on a riveting journey across both the sea and time. A hurricane leaves Emma and John stranded together in her New York City apartment; John proposes, but when Emma turns him down, their weekend takes an unexpected turn as she shares the story of her grandparents’ tumultuous love affair.
Shifting between the present, Emma’s memory, and the love story that has shaped her family, the play shows how stories of our past affect our present and asks: Do we let these stories trap us or set us free?
“‘Learning How to Drown’ is a musical inspired by the Irish myths and stories I grew up with, so it seems fitting to bring this show to the place where I honed my performance and playwriting skills while studying things like comparative mythology and the politics of storytelling,” said Noonan.
Noonan wrote the book and lyrics for “Learning How to Drown,” working with composer Amanda Jacobs and director Igor Goldin. Theatre Department Chair and Associate Professor Crystal Tiala is designing the set, and Monan Professor in Theatre Arts Michelle Miller ’98 is the production’s vocal coach.
“We are so grateful to have been given the time, space, and support to continue to strengthen the script and score of this brand-new musical,” Noonan said. “For me, there is the added joy of coming full circle, as ‘Learning How to Drown’ will be performed in the Bonn Studio Theatre where my thesis play, ‘The Storykeeper,’ debuted when I was a senior.”
Donald Margulies’ “Time Stands Still,” a Theatre Department Workshop production directed by Caitlin Mason ’16, will be staged in Bonn Studio March 17-19 at 7:30 p.m., and on March 20 at 2 p.m.
Set in Brooklyn, the play centers on Sarah, a photojournalist recovering from an injury she sustained covering the Iraq war, and her reporter boyfriend James, who is guilt-ridden after leaving Sarah alone in Iraq. They are visited by a friend who introduces them to his new, much younger girlfriend. The play focuses on their relationships and Sarah and James’ prospects of a more conventional life.
Capping the 2016 spring semester is the Theatre Department/RTAC production of the Carlo Goldoni comedy “The Servant of Two Masters,” which will be performed on the Robsham main stage as part of the BC Arts Festival April 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. and on May 1 at 2 p.m.
Directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Luke Jorgensen, “The Servant of Two Masters” is full of plot twists: Beatrice disguises herself as her late brother Federigo to find his killer: her lover Florindo. She plans to collect dowry money from Pantalone, the father of Federigo’s betrothed, Clarice, and use it to help Florindo escape. But Clarice has become engaged to another man, Silvio, whose existence Pantalone seeks to conceal from Federigo (Beatrice). Meanwhile, Beatrice’s servant Truffaldino emerges as the play’s central figure, when he has the opportunity to be servant to Florindo as well. Truffaldino’s attempts to secretly serve two masters heightens the comedy.
Admission to these productions is $15 for adults, $10 for students (with valid ID), $10 for seniors, and $10 for BC faculty/staff (one ticket per ID). Additional fees apply. For tickets contact the Robsham Theater Box Office at 617-552-4002, or see bc.edu/tickets.