27 April - 13 May, Pontine Theatres co-directors, Greg Gathers & Marguerite Mathews, bring their unique approach to literary adaptations to George Savary Wasson's early 20th century stories drawn from Cap'n Simeon's Store (1903) and The Green Shay (1905). Performances are Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 2pm. There is an addtional 8pm performance on Saturday 28 April.
The stories contained in George Savary Wasson's Cap'n Simeon's Store are based on the lives and language of Kittery Point fishermen of the late nineteenth century, and are set against the background of the village's general store. Upon its publication in 1903 it was hailed by one reviewer as "the only book which records faithfully and fully the quaint dialect, now passing away, of the old New England Coast." Mark Twain said that its eighth chapter, "Rusticators at the Cove," was one of the funniest stories he ever read. Although Wasson's books have long been out of print--they have been described as "the most authentic Maine stories ever written," and George Wasson has been ranked with Sarah Orne Jewett as a master of the New England idiom.
The Green Shay describes the results of the decline of the coastal shipping economy in the mythical town of Kentle's Harbor, where there had been "a most alarming exodus of the young and strong, and an equally alarming stay at home propensity on the part of the weak and the worthless. It is natural selection the other end to--survival of the unfittest." The result, Wasson discovered, was drunkeness, immorality, illiteracy and poverty. Within a few weeks after its publication it had created an uproar. Much of The Green Shay is written in an old dialect so obscure that Wasson, an accomplished sailor, occasionally used footnotes to get his meaning across. Even the title is hard to decipher: An Isles of Shoals shay, it turns out, referred to a small sailing vessel used in the islands, located off Kittery.
The plotline follows the tragic drowning of two brothers, Abram and Elmer Spurling, whose Green Shay is destroyed one stormy day. Suspicion falls on young Asa Kentle, and the residents of the harbor are thrown into conflict as they endeavor to solve the mysterious disaster.
Pontine's original adaptation borrows elements from both books to create a lively stage production featuring masks, traditional folk melodies, projected images of historic scenes, and a full cast of toy theatre figures who represent the books' major characters.
For more information, visit http://pontine.org/html/current_season/capnsimeone.html. Pontine/West End Studio Theatre is located at 959 Islington Street, Portsmouth, NH.