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Theatre RED Opens Season with Swashbuckling Adventure, 'Bonny Anne Bonny'

Theatre RED
Alicia Rice (left) as Anne Bonny and Rae Elizabeth Paré as Mary Read in "Bonny Anne Bonny.""

At a time when only men were allowed to have adventures, some 18th century women had other ideas.

Milwaukee’s Theatre RED produces the world premiere of local playwright Liz Shipe’s Bonny Anne Bonny. It's a female pirate adventure based on real people - Anne Bonny and Mary Read. "It's highly fictionalized...we use the ideas and the spirit of these characters, but we use them to tell this really fun high seas adventure story," explains Shipe.

For Shipe, portraying Anne Bonny and Mary Read's desire to live a life outside of what was expected of women on the 1700s was difficult without much primary evidence to support the play.

"The biggest challenge of writing a female pirate show is that you're writing about women who weren't particularly predominant in that time period," she says. "The stipulations were that they wanted lots of female roles, so you start to try and figure out how to write a show where they don't just all become the alpha female of the ship."

Throughout Bonny Anne Bonny, Shipe focused on all of the character's journeys while tackling the bigger question of women's roles in history. "(Themes like) where a woman fits in a world that isn't ready for her, and what those women's relationships to each other are. And also, I like to say that most of the characters had circular journeys as opposed to arcs," she says.

For actress Alicia Rice, the process of becoming and playing the notorious pirate Anne Bonny has been a unique experience.

"It has been incredibly fun and exhilarating and wildly exhausting," she says. "It is a workout every night we go swinging on ropes, descending and climbing over barrels, sword fights and unarmed combat. There's just so much, and it's an amazing spectacle."

The play opens tomorrow night and runs through the 12th of November at Wisconsin Lutheran College Center for the Arts.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.