Dig Deeper - Laura Ingalls Wilder and the "Missing Years"

We just opened our Mainly for Kids holiday production of Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas this past Saturday to sold-out audiences.  The play is set during the infamous "Missing Link"  - when the Ingalls family left Walnut Grove, Minnesota and moved to Burr Oak, Iowa to help manage the Masters Hotel, owned by their friend, William Steadman.  The script was co-commissioned by Kansas City's Coterie Theatre and the Nashville Children’s Theatre in 2002.  The playwright, Laurie Brooks, based the script on both the Little House on the Prairie books series as wells as original source materials about the Ingalls family and pioneer life. 

Although many academics and fans speculated about what happened during these "missing years" and why Mrs. Wilder did not include her time in Burr Oak in her series, it was not until 2014 when the Little House Heritage Trust granted the South Dakota Historical Society Press exclusive rights to publish a comprehensive, annotated edition of the Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography, Pioneer Girl, that more information about her life came to light.  In Pioneer Girl, Wilder details sixteen years of travels, unforgettable stories, and the everyday people who became immortal through her fiction.  Using additional manuscripts, diaries, and letters, editor Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and explores Wilder’s growth as a writer.  

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of  The Little House on the Prairie  book series

Laura Ingalls Wilder,
author of The Little House on the Prairie book series

Pioneer Girl includes stories that Wilder may have felt were inappropriate for children and she describes previously unknown sides of her father’s character.  According to the Pioneer Girl Project, “Wilder’s fiction, her autobiography, and her real childhood are all distinct things, but they are closely intertwined.”  This annotated edition explores the differences between the three, including incidents with conflicting or missing accounts.

The annotated autobiography also explores the history of the frontier that the Ingalls family traversed and the culture and life of the communities Wilder lived in. The book features over one hundred images, eight fully researched maps, and hundreds of annotations based on census data and records, newspapers of the period, and other primary documents.

Dig Deeper—Gaily Breaking New Ground!

The Explorers Club headquarters, New York City, 2009

The Explorers Club headquarters, New York City, 2009

In just two weeks, Lyric Arts will kick off its 2015-2016 season with the ridiculously funny farce, The Explorers Club.  The play is set in London, 1876 and the prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis:  their acting president wants to admit a woman, and their bartender is terrible.  True, this female candidate is brilliant, but the decision to let in a woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire, and how do you make such an important decision without a decent drink? 

Getrude Bell, British explorer, (image from Letters From Baghdad)

Getrude Bell, British explorer, (image from Letters From Baghdad)

To give you a sense of the historical context of this premise, the society that inspired this production, The Explorers Club, founded in New York City in 1904, accepted its first women in 1981. The Royal Society, perhaps the world’s most renowned fellowship of scientists, made its debut in 1660 and did not admit a woman until 1945.  Canada’s Royal Society barred women until 1938, and France’s Academy of Sciences would not elect a woman to full membership until 1979, blackballing Marie Curie along the way.  A recent study concluded that female playwrights are no more produced on Broadway than they were a century ago.  In developing Phyllida’s character, playwright Nell Benjamin drew from her own life experiences breaking ground in a male-dominated profession and from female adventurers like Nellie Bly, Isabella Bird and Gertrude Bell. 

The modern-day Explorers Club is a multi-disciplinary society dedicated to the advancement of field research and to preserving the instinct to explore.  The Club provides expedition resources and maintains Research Collections to assist those engaged in exploration and scientific research.  The Club actively encourages public interest in exploration and the sciences through its public lectures program and other events, such as their infamous Annual Dinner honoring accomplishments in exploration. 

Fried cockroach appetizer, The Explorers Club Annual Dinner in New York City, 2014

Fried cockroach appetizer, The Explorers Club Annual Dinner in New York City, 2014

The Dinner is regularly attended by notable names such as astronaut Buzz Aldrin,  documentary photographer and expedition leader Ally Alegra, and astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson.  The dress code is "black tie or exploration attire” and, although none of the animals eaten are endangered, the menu is absolutely wild.  Items have included deep-fried earthworms, python patties, roasted kangaroo, cockroaches with honey, and ice pops topped with crickets.

Although our production won't have such feral fare, there will be plenty of wild antics and outrageous characters lampooning the best and worst of the golden age of British exploration and imperialism.  See you at the theater!

Dig Deeper - Can You Name Every Shakespeare Play?

In our upcoming show, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), 3 actors perform all 37 of Shakespeare's plays in 97 minutes!  Can you name them all?  See how many plays you recognize listed below and get your tickets now to see how our three actors achieve this monumental comedic feat!PremiereImage_Shakespeare The Histories Henry VI Part I, II, & III Richard III King John Edward III Richard II Henry IV Part I & II Henry V Henry VIII

The Romances Pericles Cymbeline The Winter’s Tale The Tempest The Two Noble Kinsmen

The Comedies The Comedy of Errors The Taming of the Shew The Two Gentlemen of Verona Love’s Labour Lost A Midsummer Night’s Dream The Merchant of Venice The Merry Wives of Windsor Much Ado About Nothing As You Like It Twelfth Night Troilus and Cresside All’s Well That Ends Well Measure for Measure

The Tragedies Titus Andronicus Romeo and Juliet Julius Caesar Hamlet Othello King Lear Macbeth Antony & Cleopatra Coriolanus Timon of Athens