During the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, England wanted a tame, obedient Ireland.
Grace O’Malley, daughter of an Irish noble, in love with all things about the sea and fearless in war and with men, didn’t do tame.
And during her 70 plus years, she resisted the English as a ruler, a wife, mother and pirate. It’s a great story and the subject of “Bold Grace: The Voyages of the Pirate O’Malley,” which the Woodinville Repertory Theatre is presenting this month.
The one-woman show stars Anna Richardson, who premiered the role last summer at the Burien Little Theatre. The play is written by Ashley Schalow.
The Woodinville Rep will present the play Fridays and Saturdays through Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. There will be a matinee on Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 online or $20 at the door. The charge is $15 for students and seniors. For more information or to buy tickets, check the Woodinville Rep’s website (www.woodinvillerep.org) or its page on Facebook.
All shows are at Denali Slab and Tile Studio ( www.denalirocks.com), 16120 Woodinville Redmond Road NE, Suite 12, in Woodinville.
The real Grace lived a wildly full life. She pirated up and down the Irish coasts, east and west. She led an army of 200 men. She had her own fleet of ships. She was married twice, had four children (one born while Grace was at sea), spent several years in English prisons and even had a documented face-to-face meeting with Queen Elizabeth I. It is believed the conversation was in Latin. The Queen didn’t speak Irish; Grace’s English was limited at best.
In the play, Grace relives the key points in her life, starting with her first voyage with her father at the age of nine until her death in 1603. To get him to agree to take her, she cut her hair.
Her opinions are frank. Her husbands were mediocre; one of her three sons was a loser. She watches the weather on the sea. Not to watch means injury, possibly death for a ship’s crew.
Grace hates Sir Richard Bingham, the brutal English governor of Connacht, one of the western provinces of Ireland.
She respected Queen Elizabeth and mourned when the queen passed away only months before Grace herself died.
The play is a triumph for Anna Richardson, who plays Grace at all her ages – from nine to 73. The actress has appeared in numerous plays in Seattle and Baton Rouge.
Her roles have included Portia in “The Merchant of Venice” at Hatcher Hall in Louisiana; Wanda the Shark in “Arr! A Dinosaur Ate My Spaceship” at Theater Schmeater; and Elizabeth Lavenza in the Burien Little Theatre’s production of “Frankenstein.”
Schalow is a 2009 graduate of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. She wrote “Proud Grace” as her capstone project.
The play was the 2011 one-act winner in the Bill and Peggy Hunt Playwrights Festival at the Burien Little Theatre. The prize was its first production, directed by Steve Cooper.
Cooper also directs the Woodinville Rep’s production. He has been involved in the theatre’s productions for years and directed “An Evening with Christopher Durang” in 2010.
The show is the first of three productions scheduled for 2013.
Next up in March is “Greater Tuna,” the hysterical comedy about Texas’ third-smallest town.
“Passengers,” scheduled for June, is about 18 passengers whose paths cross in a Midwestern bus station.
In October, look for “Wally’s Cafe,” a three-character show about Wally, who buys a cafe on the wrong side of the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.