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Walking the Tightrope
A Free Live Streamed Performance
Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 2:00PM

Wheelock Family Theatre
200 Riverway
Boston, MA 02215


By Mike Kenny
From an original idea by Gavin Stride
Produced by special arrangement with Plays for New Audiences
Directed by Nick Vargas


A story of family, loss, and the poetry of the circus. At the end of every summer, Esme goes to stay with her Nanna and Grammy Sofie. But this summer, Nanna Queenie is missing. Unable to express that Nanna Queenie has passed away, Grammy instead shares that Nanna Queenie has joined the circus: “She looked like an ordinary woman, but inside beat the heart of a tightrope walker.” Grammy's story unravels, however, when the circus comes to town. “Although Grammy struggles with revealing the truth of Nanna’s death to Esme,” says actor and School of Theatre Assistant Professor Elaine Vaan Hogue, “she also creates the space for Esme to come to the realization on her own terms, in her own time. The love between the two of them is so open and generous, fierce and fragile.”

The story will be told through the lens of toy theatre, as if through the eyes of a child or the magic of the circus. What is toy theatre? Miniature worlds made out of paper. Or, as the director of the production and Associate Artistic/Associate Education Director of Wheelock Family Theatre, Nick Vargas, describes the experience: “We are using the vocabulary of paper and children's drawings as a way of inviting audiences’ imaginations into our storytelling. Accompanied by shadow puppetry, our blank page will come to life through the use of vivid lighting, simple but poignant costumes, live and recorded sound, as well as live video. Audiences will be in the middle of the action, safely from home.” After all, “How can we continue to tell stories that warm our hearts and open our minds?” asks School of Theatre Director Susan Mickey. “Puppets! Toy Theatre! Actors playing two beautifully written characters!


CAST Valyn Turner (Esme), Elaine Vaan Hogue (Grammy Sofie).

CREATIVE TEAM (in alphabetical order): Klara Ballay (Assistant Lighting Designer), Sam Bliss (Assistant Sound Designer), Qian Chengyuan (Lighting Designer), Erin Davis (Dramaturg), Sean Doyle (Sound Designer), Emma George (Costume Designer), Lawren Gregory (Technical Director), Grecia Hernandez (Production Manager), Angelene Kim (Film/Video), Samantha Knox (Stage Manager), Samantha Mastrati (Scenic Designer), Daniel Perkins (Assistant Stage Manager), John Tomlinson (Film/Video), Nick Vargas (Director).


Open Captioning will be provided. Questions regarding access? Please contact Audience Services Manager Jamie Aznive at jaznive@bu.edu.



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