The Earlham College Theatre Department is returning to Scotland this summer to bring the next installment of a local author’s steampunk odyssey to life.
The department will spend two weeks at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August and perform “The Further Misadventures of Martin Hathaway: Shipwrecked off Heramathea’s Cove.” Written by Richmond author Kathryn Clare Glen and adapted for stage by Earlham professor Lynne Perkins Socey, the 85-minute play is the second in a trilogy chronicling the journey of an eccentric crew of pirates on the Airship Nephthys. The first installment, “The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway,” was performed by the Theatre Arts department at the 2019 festival.
“The International Collegiate Theatre Festival producers loved our first production and are excited that we will be sharing the next part of the trilogy this summer,” said Perkins Socey, an associate professor of theatre arts. “We’re very excited to return to Scotland with a second group of students and to see how they are influenced by the wide variety of performance styles they will see from artists around the world. They will also learn a great deal about themselves through this international tour experience.”
“Every student who went with us to Edinburgh in 2019 said this experience was a highlight of their Earlham education,” she said.
Airfare and accommodations are free for students through Earlham’s signature career discernment program called the Epic Advantage. The program offers funding up to $5,000 for every student to participate in an internship, research experience or other career discerning experience, before graduation. Additional support for food and other festival expenses come from the Arthur Little Fund, which is dedicated to supporting student experiences in the theatre arts. Little was a member of Earlham’s Class of 1976.
“Our students learn more about what they like and what they don’t like,” Perkins Socey said.
“About half of the participants are theatre arts majors but after the first trip, we saw an immediate shift in all students—they became much more focused, more personally invested in getting the kind of education they really want for themselves. They gained clarity about what they want to do after graduation.”
The play will debut on Earlham’s campus at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, at the McDaniel Studio Theatre in the Center for Visual and Performing Arts. Additional performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday April 20, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22.
Tickets, purchasable on the Earlham Events Eventbrite page, are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults.
Following the on-campus performances, the Theatre Department will break for almost three months before returning to campus and resuming rehearsals. Twelve students and three faculty members will represent Earlham at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is the oldest and largest celebration of arts and culture in the world. The festival includes theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.
“I’ve traveled all over the United States but this will be my first time out of the country,” said Austi Jenkins, a theatre arts major from Richmond, Indiana. “My family has Scottish roots. This will also be an opportunity to see where my family is originally from. I’ve been dead set on going on this trip since I enrolled at Earlham.”
Jenkins has been cast in the lead role of Daisy Fitzgerald McNamara, the captain of the airship Nephthys.
“I’m excited to participate in something so big,” Jenkins said about the festival. “Before I came to Earlham, I wasn’t sure if theatre was going to be a hobby or something I might consider for my career. Now I know I want to do this professionally after college.”
Four performances of the play are scheduled over the two weeks the department is in Scotland.
“Each theatre company has a two-hour slot,” Perkins Socey said. “That includes 15 minutes to load in and 15 minutes to load out and prepare the space for the next show. That means that if our show runs 90 minutes and starts late or runs long because of audience reactions, we mess up the schedule for the entire festival. So, if a show runs long, the venue can cut the company off before the performance is over. Our load-in and load-out process needs to be incredibly efficient.”
Taking a theatre production overseas also requires creativity and frugal packing.
“We’ve been very tactful about picking out props and pieces we can use,” Jenkins said. “If we need a book for one scene, how many times can we use the same book?
“We also have different sizes of rehearsal cubes that we’ve built to match the sizes we will rent in Scotland. Since we can’t pack a set in our suitcases, we will use a platform and six different boxes to suggest the different locations in the story.
“Our production here has been designed to match what our experience in Scotland will be like so that we are as ready as we can be.”
In addition to performing the play, students will participate in a variety of cultural experiences while touring Edinburgh and the Scottish countryside. Students are also required to attend at least 15 different theatrical productions that will inform the independent research project they design for their Epic Advantage experience.
“Many of our students will attend 25-30 different productions,” Perkins Socey said. “They will get to explore all of the different aspects of theatre. We want students to get the most out of this experience as possible.”