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‘Ink’ to take its first bow

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Penobscot Theatre to present world premiere

BANGOR – Penobscot Theatre Company has given audiences a lot to appreciate in recent years. We have seen harmonic musicals, door-slamming farces and modern classics grace the Bangor Opera House Stage. However, what we haven’t seen is a world premiere.

Until now, that is.

PTC will be presenting the world premiere of the play “Ink” by Alice Van Buren. The play, which originally appeared at the 2010 Northern Writes New Play Festival (and was voted audience favorite), is receiving the full stage treatment. Previews of the show begin on March 28, with the official opening night taking place on March 30.

It’s the story of Mary Rowlandson, the first female author to be published in America. In February of 1676, preacher’s wife Rowlandson was taken from her home in Lancaster, MA by Native Americans. She was their captive for nearly three months before finally being ransomed and returned to her husband.

“Ink” takes us through the aftermath of Rowlandson’s captivity as she tries to make sense of her ordeal. Those around her begin to encourage distortion of the tale to suit their own agendas. Her story makes her an instant celebrity, leading her to be encouraged to write down the narrative of her experience. The book is to be published, much to the dismay of Mary’s frustrated writer husband.

And through it all, there is James Printer, the Harvard-trained Nipmuc who saved her life and knows the truth behind Mary’s words – yet is the one who must set them into type.

Ms. Van Buren was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to chat with The Maine Edge.

“I first ran into Mary when I was reading about King Philip’s War,” Van Buren said. “I was a graduate student at Brown and the name (King Philip) was everywhere; on streets, on plazas. So I started to read about it. After I did, I was shocked I had never heard of it.

“It was an unbelievable event. The colonists were so close to losing. Had the natives won, they might have run the British right out of the country.”

However, due to the literary style of the time, reading accounts of those events proved trying.

“The [accounts] were difficult to read,” said Van Buren. “It’s all so rhetorical. But then I came across Mary’s account. Here was someone who could write a simple, declarative sentence. She (Mary) was a very good reporter.”

After an attempt at writing the story as a novel, Van Buren realized that she had different ideas for how the tale should be told.

“I was hearing the character voices,” she said. “And gradually the play took shape. It was originally called ‘Taken by Indians,’ but it became ‘Ink’ as I realized that the story wasn’t really about the abduction.”

When asked about having the world premiere of her play here in Bangor, Van Buren was enthusiastic, citing Maine’s relatively strong Native American roots as one reason why the piece might resonate strongly with area audiences.

“I think people will really respond to this story in Maine,” Van Buren said. “I’m very happy the show is being produced in Bangor.”

The world premiere production of “Ink” will take place at the Bangor Opera House beginning March 28. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at 942-3333 or visit the website at penobscottheatre.org. In addition to the stage version of “Ink,” Van Buren has also produced a film version of the story. More information is available at inkwellsantafe.com.

Last modified on Monday, 26 March 2012 14:29

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