Lois Lowry adapts Gossamer for the stage
• Her first script is co-commissioned by
Oregon Children’s Theatre and First Stage Children’s Theatre
Portland, OR/Milwaukee, Wis.—In an unusual collaboration between children’s theatres, Oregon Children’s Theatre is teaming up with First Stage Children’s Theater to co-commission GOSSAMER, a play based on Newbery-awarding winning author Lois Lowry’s most recent book. Lowry will be writing the stage adaptation, which is her first play.
The creative team consists of author Lois Lowry, Jeff Frank (Fist Stage Artistic Director), and Stan Foote (Oregon Children’s Theatre Artistic Director). The two theatre companies have many commonalities that make them ideal partners: a commitment to age appropriate casting, acting schools that prepare students for the stage, youth involvement in the writing process, a commitment to develop new work, and programming that gives voice to the disenfranchised. Foote and Frank have a mutual respect for each other’s work and each other’s companies that moves them to partner on this project and additional projects in the future. The companies will produce concurrent world premieres of Lowry’s play in September/October of 2008.
“To take a new look at something already written and published—to go at it again, in a new way, is a chance few writers get,” says Lois Lowry. “So this is a treat for me. And a very different sort of experience. Writing fiction is a solitary enterprise. Lonely, sometimes. To turn for the first time to playwriting—a very collaborative act—is invigorating. And of course Stan and Jeff make it fun.”
The world premiere of GOSSAMER will run in September and October 2008 at each of the two theatre companies. While the script will be the same, both First Stage and OCT will take a different creative approach to the staging. Working in different theatres brings separate challenges and opportunities for each of the directors.
“Lois has written a fascinating story,” says Stan Foote, OCT Artistic Director. “Two compelling story lines parallel each other with chronicles of young characters and their strong experienced mentors. The environments that these characters inhabit become complex when they collide. Working with Lois Lowry on her first play and partnering with First Stage is an honor.”
“Lois creates really powerful pieces; she is never afraid of dealing with controversial issues,” said Jeff Frank, First Stage Artistic Director. “She creates this fantastical world with a blending of wonder and some harsh reality. GOSSAMER really shows how memory informs who we become and how we cope.”
GOSSAMER is about a group of dream givers, who collect memories from belongings important to the individual and then weave them together to create dreams. The story follows a young boy and his mother, both escaping from an abusive past, and an older woman who serves as the boy’s foster mother. The boy is haunted by nightmares, given to him by the evil Sinisteeds. His dream giver, Littlest One, must muster all her courage to weave happy dreams that will strengthen and protect him.
ABOUT LOIS LOWRY
Lois Lowry has written more than 30 books for young readers and received many citations and awards, including Newbery Medals for her novels Number the Stars (1989) and The Giver (1993). Lowry was born in Hawaii and lived in New York, Pennsylvania and Tokyo, Japan before settling in New York for high school. She attended Brown University, but dropped out to get married and start a family. The mother of four children, she completed her college education in Maine and worked as a writer and photographer. Since the 1970s she has published novels known for expressing realistic life experiences, including the trilogy The Giver, Gathering Blue and The Messenger and the Anastasia Krupnik series of books. Her other books include A Summer to Die (1977), Autumn Street (1979) and Rabble Starkey (1987). Gossamer was written in 2006. Lowry recently received the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in young adult literature.
ABOUT OREGON CHILDREN’S THEATRE
Founded in 1989, Oregon Children’s Theatre is Oregon’s largest non-profit professional children’s theatre company and a resident company of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. OCT serves more than 111,000 children of all ages each year. OCT offers numerous school services including in-school workshops and an extensive outreach program. OCT’s year round Acting Academy offers theatre classes for children ages 4-17.
ABOUT FIRST STAGE CHILDREN’S THEATRE
First Stage Children’s Theater is Milwaukee’s premier, professional family theater. Founded in 1987, the mission of the company is to touch hearts and transform lives by creating exceptional, professional theater experiences for young people and families. First Stage is member of the Downtown Theater District and Theater Wisconsin, and a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).