Baylor Theater opens Tuesday with its production of “Treasure Island.” Photo courtesy of Abigail Dillard

By Emma Weidmann | Personal editor

Featuring a cast of female pirates, the Baylor Theater production of “Treasure Island” opens Tuesday at the Mabee Theater at the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. The Baylor Theater marked a triumphant return to the stage this semester as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“Treasure Island” is adapted from the novel by Robert Louis Stephenson, written in 1883. Originally centered on the adventures of a group of young boys, this adaptation throws the play in a new light. Abigail Dillard, a graduate student in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the play’s director and said casting all the women in the role of pirates is unique, but ultimately changes very little to the story itself.

“Treasure Island” is the story of Jim Hawkins, a boy who finds a treasure map and recruits a crew of pirates from Black Hill Cove to sail in search of the treasure, but encounters a mutiny, shipwreck and several fights on the way. sword along the way. . For more than a century, the story has inspired films and stage adaptations, including Disney’s futuristic animated film “Treasure Planet.”

However, this stage adaptation by Bryony Lavery puts a different spin on the story. According to Dillard, Lavery’s work tends to focus on women and other marginalized identities, particularly those that were unrepresented at the time Stevenson wrote the original novel.

“The treasure isn’t as important as the people Jim surrounds himself with along the way,” Dillard said. “Bryony is a very strong feminist and queer playwright and author, so it was very important to her, when she was commissioned to write this play, that it be inclusive for everyone.”

This production proves that adventure is for everyone. Every member of the audience will recognize something of themselves in Jim Hawkins.

“It’s just gender neutral,” Dillard said. “What we found in our research is that there were also historical women pirates. We consider pirates to be dangerous men, but there were also some really dangerous women.

Dillard has a unique directing style in that she allows her actors more freedom than usual, giving them the space to incorporate their own interpretation of their characters into the production. In doing so, she created a special working relationship between herself and her cast that fostered mutual respect.

“She knows what she wants and I love it,” said Long Beach, Calif., junior and performer Lauryn Bedford. “It’s such a blessing to have my first experience on the main stage with Abigail Dillard. There’s just something about the way she sees it and the way she trusts us to make it happen for her that is very flattering.

Bedford said his character, Doctor Livesey, was also originally male. According to Bedford, the Doctor is someone who cares about their community and shows affection through action, something Bedford uses to relate to her character when she acts. Loud and quiet, Doctor Livesey has an ingrained presence in the cast.

“She was the one who taught Jim to read and educated him,” Bedford said. “She’s not a pompous person. She could be anywhere, but she’s here at Black Hill Cove.

“Treasure Island” will be played from February 22 and will continue until February 27 at different times. Tickets can be purchased at the Theater Arts box office.

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