KINGSTON, R.I. –April 12, 2010 –- The University of Rhode Island’s Department of Theatre will present the Rhode Island premiere of Unbound, this month.
Based on the journals of British actress Fanny Kemble (1809-93), playwright Laura Marks portrays a life of a remarkable woman of artistry, curiosity and humanity. The play is a fictional retelling of true events, anchored by quotations from Fanny Kemble’s journals.
Marks wrote the play at the suggestion of her friend, director Davis McCallum, who directed the original New York production of the play for Prospect Theater Company in 2005. The playwright will be an artist-in-residence at URI from April 24 to 27.
The play will be performed in the Robert E. Will Theatre, Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston Campus. It runs April 22 through 24 and April 29 through May 1 at 7:30 p.m, April 25 and May 2 at 3 p.m.
Admission is $16 for the general public, $12 for senior citizens and URI faculty/staff and $10 for students. Tickets can be purchased by calling 401.874.5843 beginning April 12 or online at www.uri.edu/theatre.
URI Associate Professor of Theatre Bryna Wortman, who saw the original 2005 production, will direct the play. She most recently directed URI’s productions of Angels in America, Pride & Prejudice, The Merchant of Venice, and Fat Pig.
In the 1830s during a tour in New York City, Fanny falls in love with the charming, wealthy gentleman, Pierce Butler, and happily and willingly gives up her theatrical career to become his wife and soon the mother of his two daughters.
Despite Butler’s resistance, she wins him over to the notion of leaving northern society for life on his family plantation in Georgia where who and what she encounters changes her forever.
The depth of her understanding of what it means to live off of others’ labor creates a moral dilemma and painful life decision that is the heart and soul of Unbound.
“Fanny Kimble’s story is timeless. To me, it’s a story about how easy it is to be complicit with something that you know is wrong, and how hard it is to fight against that complicity,” says the playwright.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing college actors interpret the play. The central character—Fanny Kemble—has a passion and energy that feel very youthful, so it seems especially right to have young women embodying her story.”
Marks will take part in a post-matinee chat with Wortman and the cast Sunday, April 25.
Costume design is by guest artist, Marilyn Salvatore, set design by Associate Professor Christian Wittwer, lighting design by David Roy and sound design by guest artist, Michael Hyde.
In addition, on Monday, April 26, Marks will give a “The Playwright Speaks” lecture at 4 p.m. in Robert E. Will Theatre. A question and answer period and a reception will follow her talk. The talk is free and open to the public.
Members of the casts, their characters, and hometowns are:
Name, Character, Hometown
Albert Coelho, Aleck, East Providence
Cory Crew, Mr. Oden, Putnam Valley, N.Y.
Jesse Dufault, Ensemble Man, Narragansett
Nora Eschenheimer, Ensemble Fanny, Newport
Ben Grills, Pierce Butler, Westerly
Jocilyn Hardguittini, Harriet/Swing, Providence
Meg Kane, Maria Therese, Smithfield
Olivia Knoshatefen, Psyche, Mansfield,Mass.
Jolie Lippincott, Young Fanny, Westerly
Jen Michaels, Ensemble Fanny, Stonington, Conn.
Mike Puppi, Charles, Narragansett
Stephanie Rodger, Older Fanny, Coventry
Ben Rose, Ensemble Man, Wood River Junction, Vt.
Johnny Sederquist, Ensemble Man, Middleboro, Mass.
URI students (from left) Ben Grills of Westerly, Jolie Lippincott of Westerly, Albert Coelho of East Providence and Stephanie Rodger of Coventry star in URI Theatre’s production of Unbound. URI Theatre photo by Randy Osga.