The Brainerd Community Theatre virtual stage is set.
“The year is 1992. A Norwegian fishing boat crew trawling the North Atlantic spots an iceberg. A dark figure dots the white background. As the boat pulls close to the ice, the crew is astounded to find a young woman, dressed in clothing from the early 1900s. When they bring her aboard their vessel, she says only one word: Titanic.”
These events are what propel Jeffrey Hatcher’s “Scotland Road,” which will be presented as a streamed theater event Nov. 4 by Brainerd Community Theatre.
“This play is a mixture of mystery, science fiction and psychology,” Patrick Spradlin, the play’s director, stated in a news release. “With the added element of the sinking of the Titanic, it is a truly fascinating work.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions the theater company is not able to perform the play in front of a live audience in its theater space. Instead, the company has opted to produce the play for virtual audience attendance. Spradlin noted that the event is on demand, meaning audiences will be able to watch the production at their convenience.
“This is one advantage to performances held at fixed times,” he stated. “It’s at least one compensation of not being able to have live audiences in the theater.
“We’re using a television production approach to the play. That means our at-home audience will be able to enjoy the play with all its nuances in a more intimate way than merely shooting the play from a long-distance, panoramic perspective. More close-ups, more directed emphasis on the key moments in the play. It should make for a really compelling 90 minutes.”
The company is rehearsing and shooting the play on the stage of the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus of Central Lakes College. The final version will be streamed over a private online channel. Instead of purchasing a ticket for a seat in the theater, patrons will purchase a secure link to the streamed performance.
“We’d rather have an audience in the same space as the actors, but that’s not possible at this time,” Spradlin stated. “There’ve been some very successful streamed performances during this time, ‘Hamilton’ comes to mind, and we’re working very hard to make this production as exciting and engaging as a live performance might be.”
The play takes place in a secure, sterile environment set up by John, a man obsessed with all things Titanic. After hearing of the young woman’s rescue from the iceberg, he has arranged for her to be brought to this location for study. Intent on either confirming her story or exposing her as a fraud, John has enlisted the aid of Dr. Halbrech. John orchestrates a number of scenarios intended to trip up the young woman’s story, going so far as to enlist the aid of Miss Kittle, the last known survivor of the Titanic disaster. What happens then takes an eerie and unsettling turn.
Jesse Brutscher plays the role of John. Brutscher is familiar to local theater audiences for numerous roles in nearly every area community theater. Maren Goff Martin plays Halbrech; she was last seen on the Brainerd stage in the production of “A Few Good Men.” Macy Judd is The Young Woman. Judd appeared in the Brainerd summer theater musical “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” Miss Kittle is portrayed by veteran actor Barb McColgan, who has delighted area audiences in many varied roles, Spradlin stated.
The creative team for the play consists of George Marsolek, set designer and technical director; Heidi Eckwall, lighting designer; Sharon Hartley, costumer; Curtis Jendro, video and sound director; Lorri Jager, stage manager; and Tim Leagjeld, Titanic technical advisor.
Photography is by John Erickson of Art Matters Studio and Gallery. Lucy Peterson is the box office manager, and Missy Tureson is the box office staff person.
Tickets for “Scotland Road” are available from the CLC Theatre Box Office by calling 218-855-8199 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursday. Online sales and further information about the production may be found clcperformingarts.com.