FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2015
Contact: Lisa Jordan
An Exploration of Homeland and Belonging
One-woman show Mae Swe tells stories of Burma and home
Bethlehem, PA – Touchstone Theatre starts off 2016 with Mae Swe, an original one-woman play by company member and Spirited Stories storyteller Mary Wright. The play explores themes of home and belonging, set against the backdrop of Burma/Myanmar. Mae Swe runs January 14-17, 2016.
Wright was born in Burma to missionary parents, in the early days of the military government; when she was four, her family (along with all foreigners) was forced to leave the country. In Mae Swe, Wright uses her family’s stories as a jumping off point, delving into the tales of local refugees from Myanmar, figures from Burmese history and folktales, and reflections on what the idea of home comes to represent for herself and for us all. Traditional Burmese puppets, music, lacquer ware, and dress help to weave the story.
Despite its long history of political turmoil, “Lots of people don’t know where Burma is, or much about it,” Wright notes. “I’m hoping this helps change that. But on a personal level, growing up, when people asked me, ‘Where are you from?’ I never really knew what to tell them. I think this play is partially my attempt to answer that question.”
Wright has been conducting interviews and gathering stories for this project since fall of 2008. “I’ve often told people I coach on personal storytelling that sometimes we aren’t ready to tell a certain story,” she adds. “Once I found out there were refugees from Burma who had settled in the Lehigh Valley, I knew now was the time for this story.”
Former Touchstone ensemble member Jennie Gilrain, who led Touchstone’s Don Quixote of Bethlehem Project, directs. “I love the questions that the play evokes,” she enthuses. “What is home, and why is it so important? How does a place become essential to our identity, part of our DNA?” Gilrain currently teaches at Freemansburg Elementary and recently helped start The Favorite Poem Project of Bethlehem.
Mae Swe and the accompanying Burma Project is funded in part by grants from the Rider-Pool Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. It is supported locally by Touchstone season sponsors First Generation, an integrated marketing communications company, and RCN. WDIY provides media sponsorship.
Mae Swe plays January 14-17, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $25 for adults / $15 for students and seniors, with group rates available on request. On Thursday, Touchstone offers a pay-what-you-will ticket option at the door, allowing walkup patrons to name their own ticket price. Advance tickets may be purchased at 610.867.1689 or online at www.touchstone.org
Celebrating thirty-five years, Touchstone Theatre produces and presents both original and classic productions, with a dedication to the renewal of theatre as a vital art form. Touchstone works to foster collaboration on a local and national level through educational and youth empowerment programs, using theatre as a community-building tool. Visit us on the web at www.touchstone.org