SOMERS — Four University of Wisconsin-Parkside theater students, two actors and two techs, will have the opportunity to help produce and perform “Boswell” at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the month of August as part of a collaboration with Milwaukee-based playwright Marie Kohler and her production company.
Director, writer, actor and playwright Marie Kohler wrote and produced “Boswell’s Dreams” in 2005 to wide critical acclaim. In 2016, she reworked the play and gave it a new title: “Boswell.” The play spotlights James Boswell, a literary figure from Scotland’s past.
Grounded in the friendship between Boswell and his English friend Samuel Johnson, Boswell re-imagines the pair’s tour to the Hebrides in 1773 and interweaves it with the 1950s, when Boswell’s journals are discovered by Joan, an American graduate student studying in Scotland. Speaking through his journals, Boswell’s voice coaxes Joan to move towards greater authenticity and fun.
When rewriting “Boswell’s Dreams” for a 2016 staged reading at UW-Parkside, Kohler dreamed of taking the production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her passion for the material, and the belief that Boswell’s words needed to be revived and brought home to Scotland, inspired her to fulfill her career-long dream to participate in the world’s largest arts festival and to share the experience with rising artists and local students.
To make the trip to the festival happen, Kohler pulled together a team of collaborators, including UW-Parkside, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the Nevada Conservatory Theater and Renaissance Theaterworks, for which Kohler is the co-founder and resident playwright.
The cast and crew of “Boswell” will be on the UW-Parkside campus rehearsing during the month of July, with a send-off performance at 4:30 p.m. on July 27 at the UW-Parkside Black Box Theater, 900 Wood Road, Somers. A reception will follow the performance, starting at 6:15 p.m.
The public is invited to attend the performance and reception, both of which have no admission fee. During the reception, attendees will have the chance to engage in a Q&A session with Kohler and the actors. Free parking is available in Lots A & B in The Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities parking lot on the west side of the Parkside campus.
Laura Gordon, Brian Man and UW-Parkside’s Brian Gill are playing the principal roles. Norma Saldivar, chair of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Theater Department, recruited her colleague, award-winning composer Josh Schmidt to support the project.
The four UW-Parkside students involved in the production are actors Christiane Laskowski and Kyle Racas, assistant manager Bri Humke and backstage helper Olivia Jardas. In addition, UW-Parkside faculty members, Jody Sekas and Misti Bradford are aiding the production.
After the send-off performance, the team will fly to Scotland on July 29 to perform in Riddle’s Court, with the assistance of the award-winning production company, Rhymes with Purple, from Aug. 2-24.