Young girl takes on pirates, fosters democracy in ‘Buccaneers’

Pirates are getting a lot of attention in the Twin Cities.

First there was the extensive exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota; now there’s the Children’s Theatre Company’s new production Buccaneers.

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Megan Fischer is Enid Arabella in “Buccaneers”

Photos by Joan Buccina, Buccina Studios

Written by Liz Duffy Adams, Buccaneers tells the story of feisty Enid Arabella, who is captured by the tyrannical pirate Johnny Johné. Enid manages to save not only herself but the rest of the children forced to serve as crew on the ship.

Buccaneers, like two other recent CTC productions, Pippi Longstocking and A Wrinkle in Time, is a big story with a heroic gal at its heart.

Artistic Director Peter Brosius says CTC is naturally drawn to stories that show young people wrestling with real decisions and complex situations, just like they are in real life.

We live in a world where the leadership of women is literally essential for creating just and economically successful societies. CTC is also a place where we have a majority of our departments run by women. We commission and produce leading women writers consistently and consciously. It is hugely important that in a culture that objectifies and commodifies women in all manner of media that we create and support true, rich and complicated portraits of young women finding their voice, acting with agency and making a difference.

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Bradley Greenwald is the tyrannical pirate Johnny Johné and Megan Fischer stars as Enid Arabella in “Buccaneers”

Photos by Joan Buccina, Buccina Studios

In Buccaneers, Enid Arabella not only saves the day, she also manages to install a democracy on board the ship with her young comrades. Not bad for a ten year-old.

While history is filled with stories of female pirates, playwright Liz Duffy Adams found her inspiration closer to home.

The play was inspired by my nieces. When the older one was 8, she was obsessed with pirates. I had written a play (for grown-ups) called Wet, or Isabella The Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latitudes, and she wanted me to tell her about it. After I’d told her the story of that play, she began telling it back to me, except it was a completely different story, that included a wicked pirate king called Johnny Johné and a young man named Tito Orlando. So when I needed to think of something for CTC, I naturally thought of my niece, and her pirate story. I kept only those two character names (her story included a kitten rescued at sea, and a sea monster).

But most of all, I was inspired by her wild indomitable spirit, and then by that of her younger sister. Girls can be so fierce – I could easily imagine either of them ruling an empire! I wanted to tell the story of a girl fending for herself in a dangerous world, and coming out on top of it.

Buccaneers runs through October 21 at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

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