“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the inner vision which guides us as a Nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.” – President Lyndon Johnson, 1965
What is Theatre Connections?
Theatre Connections is the School of Theatre’s initiative to get involved in the campus and local communities, and to encourage students and residents to be socially and politically active through the arts.
For Fall 2011, Theatre Connections is focusing on the School of Theatre’s production of The Women of Lockerbie by Deborah Brevoort. The Women of Lockerbie will be presented September 30 - October 8 in the Center for the Performing Arts and is directed by Emily Gill.
The Women of Lockerbie
The following synopsis comes from playwright Deborah Brevoort’s webpage:
“A mother from New Jersey roams the hills of Lockerbie Scotland, looking for her son’s remains which were lost in the crash of Pan Am 103. She meets the Women of Lockerbie, who are fighting the US Government to obtain the clothing of the victims found in the plane’s wreckage. The women, determined to convert an act of hatred into an act of love, want to wash the clothes of the dead and return them to the victim’s families. The Women of Lockerbie is loosely inspired by a true story, although the characters and situations in the play are purely fictional. Written in the structure of a Greek tragedy, it is a poetic drama about the triumph of love over hate.”
The Women of Lockerbie earned Brevoort the Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays Award and a silver medal in the Onassis International Playwriting Competition. It has been translated into seven languages and has been produced in many countries, including Greece, Japan, and Spain. A production in Belarus, Russia, was performed in secret, deep in a forest, in order to evade strict censorship regulations. The Women of Lockerbie was also performed as part of the When the World Said No to War international photograph exhibits in Sydney, Australia, and Edinburg, Scotland. In the United States, the play ran Off-Broadway in 2003, featuring ISU alumnus Judith Ivey in the leading role.
Check out the New York Times review of the 2003 Off-Broadway production of The Women of Lockerbie!
On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. The terrorist bombing killed all 259 on board (including 179 Americans), as well as 11 residents of Lockerbie. It took nearly 11 years for a culprit to stand trial. The Women of Lockerbie takes place in 1995, amid the U.S. government’s investigation. The clothing the women of the play want to retrieve is being held in Lockerbie as evidence.
At the time, it was assumed that the bombing was in retaliation to President Reagan’s order for the bombing of two Libyan cities in 1986 (in response to the killing of two U.S. personnel in a Berlin bombing), or to the accidental U.S. shooting of an Iranian passenger plane earlier in 1988. The Women of Lockerbie presents an alternative to this cycle of blame and revenge: the women want to right a wrong through love and commitment to family ties.
Check out the following resources for the political context of The Women of Lockerbie!
BBC News: On This Day, 5 April, 1986 – This article provides a timeline of events surrounding the Berlin Disco Bombing, including the Pan Am Flight 103 crash in Lockerbie.
BBC News: On This Day, 21 December, 1988 – This article provides a timeline of events surrounding the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 in Lockerbie, including the trial and conviction of the bombers.
CNN: Lockerbie Crash Timeline – This timeline is a more detailed account of the investigation of the Lockerbie crash.
Recent News - This article talks about the accused bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who is currently in Tripoly. And here are PDFs of other recent articles: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3.
We are fortunate to have writer of The Women of Lockerbie, Deborah Brevoort, on campus Tuesday and Wednesday, October 4 and 5. The following events are open to the public:
10:00-10:50 am Guest Lecture/Discussion for LinC classes and other students (Milner Library)
12:35-2:20 Lecture on the Writing Process for THE 340/Directing Workshop, THE 348/Playwriting and IDS 121.39/Contemporary Women Playwrights (Center for the Performing Arts Theatre)
Talkback with the playwright, immediately following the 7:30 performance of The Women of Lockerbie (Center for the Performing Arts)
12:00 pm International Studies Seminar (Braden Auditorium Lobby)
Deborah Brevoort was born in Alaska and now lives in the NYC area. An alumna of the New Dramatists (a prestigious non-profit for developing playwrights), Brevoort has written numerous award-winning plays and musical libretti. She has received grants and fellowships from many institutions, including the NEA and Rockefeller Foundation. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Brown University and an MFA in Musical Theatre from NYU Tisch. She currently teaches at NYU, Columbia University, and Goddard College.
Check out Deborah Brevoort’s website for more information about her and her work!
Each production of a play is a different experience for an audience. The artistic team and cast of our production of The Women of Lockerbie have used their research skills and creativity to develop a unique world on the CPA stage.
Through email interviews, the members of the production team of The Women of Lockerbie were asked the question, “How do you research a play?” Check back soon for their responses and learn about their creative processes!
For more information about how you can research a play, check out How do you research a play?
11,000 Pieces of Clothing – The real women of Lockerbie washed 11,000 articles of clothing and returned them to families around the globe. ISU students have arranged donation boxes for local charities to be placed in the CPA lobby during performances of The Women of Lockerbie. In the same spirit of love and generosity as the women featured in the play, our goal is to gather 11,000 articles of clothing for people in need. To encourage audience participation, the School of Theatre is offering $1 off the ticket price for The Women of Lockerbie to every audience member who donates. Read the press release for more information.
Cultivating Non-Violent Reponses to Violence – A discussion with invited guests and the audience immediately following the opening night performance on September 30.
The Women of Lockerbie made a conscious choice to turn an act of hatred into an act of love. How can we cultivate that response?
The participants include:
Rev. Elyse Nelson Winger – Chaplain, Illinois Wesleyan University
Jane Roeschley - Associate Pastor for Worship and Lay Ministries, Mennonite Church of Normal
Gabriel Gudding - Associate Professor of English, Illinois State University
LinC Night – First Year LinC is a course available to incoming freshmen at ISU. It intends to assist students in their transition to college, help students identify majors and careers, and introduce students to opportunities for campus and community involvement. This year, many sections of LinC will be attending The Women of Lockerbie, learning about the role of the arts on campus and in the community, and exploring civic engagement through the arts.
Talkback with Playwright, Deborah Brevoort
International Studies Seminar
How do you research a play?
A play script is like a blueprint: it maps out the general structure of the play (the plot), but it is up to a team of hard-working, highly creative individuals to take the words on the page and transform them into a 3-Dimensional world on the stage.
The production process begins with a director. The director uses his or her research skills and ingenuity to analyze and interpret the text. The director then collaborates with a team of designers—scenic, costume, lighting, and sound—to create an environment where the action of the play can come to life. The director and actors work together to create characters and action that effectively use the playwright’s text and the director’s interpretation to tell the story.
The following are examples of resources a director, designer, or actor may use as research for The Women of Lockerbie.
The Actors’ Gang Study Guide for The Women of Lockerbie (pdf) – This study guide was developed by Vanessa Mizzone, Director of Education & Outreach, and Erika Tasini, Dramaturg for The Actors’ Gang production of The Women of Lockerbie in the company’s 2006-2007 season. It was used by the director, designers, and actors, and contains all of the following
- Program notes for The Actors’ Gang production (including notes from playwright Deborah Brevoort and set designer Sibyl Wickersheimer)
- A synopsis of The Women of Lockerbie
- Character breakdown
- Historical information (including a list of victims of the Pan Am Flight 103 crash and quotes from individuals effected by it)
- Glossary of terms
- Story structure
- Information about Greek tragedy
- Classroom activities
- Discussion and essay questions
Dark Elegy – This sculpture by Suse Lowenstein, mother of a 21-year old victim of the Pan Am Flight 103 crash, depicts the mothers and wives of the attack’s victims at the moment they learned of the crash. Lowenstein endeavors to donate the sculpture as a memorial, but has received opposition. Learn about it here. Dark Elegy is an example of how an artist used a personal and political even to inspire her work. The evocative image and its received resistance may also be used as research for a production of The Women of Lockerbie.
The Keepers – This 1997 ABC documentary features Nightline’s Ted Koppel interviewing witnesses to the Pan Am Flight 103 crash, as well as Suse Lowenstein, creator of Dark Elegy. The Keepers was playwright Deborah Brevoort’s inspiration for writing The Women of Lockerbie. The webpage provides transcripts and AV-files. The documentary is also available for viewing at Milner Library. You can find the transcript of the documentary here.
Scottish Dialect Resources (pdf)– Often actors must begin research before auditioning for a play. In the case of the School of Theatre’s production of The Women of Lockerbie, auditioners must prepare a Scottish dialect. These resources were prepared by Connie de Veer, Associate Professor of Voice and Acting and Dialect Coach for The Women of Lockerbie.
How did we research this production?
The following are questions asked and responses of the Director and Designers of ISU’s production of this play:
When does research begin?
Research can begin at many different times according to who is doing the research, but most start as soon as they know they are assigned to the play. For some that was last spring, and for others it was over the summer.
What is the pathway of your research?
Most begin by reading the play. Others might research the background of the play, so they can understand the context. The Assistant Director looked at the life of the playwright to understand her perspective. The Costume Designer had to read the play several times in order to get a strong idea of what the characters would wear. The Lighting Designer researched more about the location of the play, so that he could create the atmosphere of Lockerbie.
What do you look for?
It is important to look for the inspiration of the play. Why exactly the playwright decided to write this story. The Designers also know to need to atmosphere and characteristics of the place and people the play is based on, so they can create harmonious designs. The designers need to find images or sounds from the play’s setting in order to comprehend the necessities for their designs.
How was the research used in the production?
The research helps the Director shape the characters for the play. The Designers use their research to use colors, shapes, textures, and sounds that can make the production feel more genuine. The actors use their research to understand what their characters went through.
To view pictures from this production go to our gallery (link to gallery)
Other Research Documents
What’s happening now?
To see where we are in the production follow our blog. Here you will find updates from the Director, designers, and actors. As well as pictures from the rehearsal process.
Theatre Connections Contacts
Theatre Connections Facilitator