SUMMERLAND by Arlitia Jones
directed by Erin Kraft
April 8th 7pm at Seattle Rep
Summerland tells the strange tale of William H. Mumler, a spirit photographer with a talent for capturing haunting images of the dead from the world beyond–Summerland. Based on the true story, Summerland is set in 1869 during the height of the American Spiritualist Movement. Summerland follows the rise and fall of Mumler’s career from his wildly successful studio trade to his indictment for fraud. Did he fake the photographs? Or are there really such things as ghosts? No evidence remains, only the lingering questions about what happens when we die and is there really such a place as Summerland?
Arlitia Jones is a playwright, poet and director, as well as co-founder of TossPot Productions in Anchorage, Alaska. Her play Rush at Everlasting received a reading with the Northwest Playwrights’ Alliance at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in spring 2012, at The Lark in New York City in 2013 and a full production at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska in January 2014, and Anchorage in February 2014. Her short play, Tornado was just selected as a winner in the 38th Annual Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival in New York City in July 2013. She is the recipient of an Individual Artists Fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation. Jones is also a playwright in residence with the Seattle Repertory Theatre for 2013-2014 seasons. Past works includeThe Emperical Eskimo which was selected as a finalist in the 2011 36th Annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Summer Play Festival in New York City. Her first full length play Sway Me Moon was produced by Three Wise Moose at Out North Theatre in February of 2008 in Anchorage and again at the 2008 Last Frontier Theatre Conference. In addition to her theatre work, Jones is also a published poet and author of one volume,The Bandsaw Riots which won the 2001 Dorothy Brunsman Prize from Bear Star Press. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and publications and were featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild of America.You can find more news of her and her writings at www.arlitia.com.
Erin Kraft is in her eighth season at Seattle Rep, where she has served as Casting Director for the past four years. Recent directing credits include: Smudge by Rachel Axler and the world premiere of Paul Mullin’s Ballard House Duet at Washington Ensemble Theatre, and the world premiere of Holly Arsenault’s Undo at Annex Theatre. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.
BEFORE Summerland, there will by a reading by LLyn De Danaan from her recent book “Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Life on Oyster Bay.”
A gravestone, a mention in local archives, stories still handed down around Oyster Bay: the outline of a woman begins to emerge and with her the world she inhabited, so rich in tradition, so shaken by violent change. Katie Kettle Gale was born into a Salish community in Puget Sound in the 1850s, just as settlers were migrating into what would become Washington State. With her people forced out of their accustomed hunting and fishing grounds into ill-provisioned island camps and reservations, Katie Gale sought her fortune in Oyster Bay. In that early outpost of multiculturalism—where Native Americans and immigrants from the eastern United States, Europe, and Asia vied for economic, social, political, and legal power—a woman like Gale could make her way.
As LLyn De Danaan mines the historical record, we begin to see Gale, a strong-willed Native woman who cofounded a successful oyster business, then wrested it away from her Euro-American husband, a man with whom she raised children and who ultimately made her life unbearable. Steeped in sadness—with a lost home and a broken marriage, children dying in their teens, and tuberculosis claiming her at forty-three—Katie Gale’s story is also one of remarkable pluck, a tale of hard work and ingenuity, gritty initiative and bad luck that is, ultimately, essentially American.
LLyn De Danaan, emerita faculty and former academic dean, The Evergreen State College, writes fiction and non-fiction. Her nonfiction book, Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Life on Oyster Bay was published by University of Nebraska Press in 2013. De Danaan has a blog, www.llyndedanaan.com and contributes regularly occasionally to Hearth Roots Music blog, No Depression and Kithfolk. She served on Black Hills Pride regional board and was a founding member of the Mason County Historic Preservation Commission. She is currently a member of the board of trustees, Olympic Park Associates and is involved with the South Sound Estuary Society. She plays with Quebecois and Klezmer jams in Olympia.