Director Katy Brown believes Pamela Sterling’s stage adaptation of the second book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved “Little House” series brings the story to life in a way that would make the author proud.
“No matter how many times I read the books I am amazed at how I am transported to the exact time and place where Laura is,” Brown said. “I can smell the prairie. I can see the way the sky touches the land and the way the sun is setting. It feels like no time has passed even though it’s been well over a hundred years.
“Here in the theatre, we will not treat these stories as something that happened long ago; we will live them as though they are happening right now. It’s what we specialize in — making things become now. I can only think that Laura Ingalls would like that. She, more than anyone else in the world, knew the most about making the past and present feel like the same thing. She could make them both feel like home.”
Laura and her family set out from the Big Woods of Wisconsin towards the promise of open lands and plentiful harvests. “To the land of the free … where a man is a man if he’s willing to toil, and the humblest may gather the fruits of the soil,” as one of the traditional songs used in the play says.
But the journey is long, hard and fraught with danger — a testament to the determination of early American settlers. Will they survive to reach their new home on the prairie? Will the hard life shatter who they are and the “civilized life” that is as dear to Ma as her china shepherdess, and just as fragile? And how will their dreams change the lives of the people they meet along the way?
“Laura always seems to put her finger on what’s really important — that home is home because of the people in it and not because of the things you have, that simple is almost always better, that at our core we are more the same than different,” Brown said. “Despite the years that separate us from her, what deeply matters to us as human beings doesn’t seem to have changed all that much.”
The play stars Annie Simpson as Laura Ingalls. Sean Michael Flattery and Emily Grove play Charles and Caroline Ingalls, and Natalie Riegel is Mary Ingalls. Rounding out the cast are Barrett Guyton and Terrance Jackson.
Tickets are $13; group rates are available.
For tickets or more information, call the Barter box office at (276) 628-3991 or visit www.bartertheatre.com .