Open Eye's season begins with world premier

Margaretville — The Open Eye Theater has produced the world premier of Walking Toward America, a new play by Sandra Fenichel Asher. It is the story of the escape by a Latvian family from the Russian annexation of their homeland, the Republic of Latvia, at the end of World War II. Faced with a choice of life under Soviet authoritarianism or a precarious trek to freedom, 50,000 families chose hardship and danger. It is largely an untold story that Asher makes into a riveting theater experience of courage, uncertainty, peril, humor and hope ending in New York harbor.

There have been three preview readings in New York at The Provincetown Playhouse, at New York University and at the Dramatists Guild and one in Lancaster PA at the Theater of the Seventh Sister. It is based on the memoirs of Ilga Vice, the daughter of a Latvian Air Force officer who took his family on a 500-mile trek through the madness and chaos of war along the Baltic Sea in winter to be in Germany when it surrendered to the western Allies. To reach American, British or French occupation zones was their only hope for a life in the free world. Until the beginning of the war they had known such a life in their prosperous, economically advanced but militarily vulnerable homeland.

Open Eye star Patricia Van Tassel will play Ilga and 23 other characters in the one-woman drama. This will be Van Tassel’s fourth such play. On tour in 2010 and at Margaretville she won five standing ovations in her last five performances of Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell. The premier and the earlier Open Eye productions have been directed by producing artistic director, Amie Brockway. In setting the world premier to be in Margaretville Asher voiced her confidence in The Open Eye’s ability to bring forth a top-quality production. Brockway and the theater board of trustees expect a tour beginning this fall.

Ilga Vice and Asher will be at the four Memorial Day weekend performances to meet theatergoers and will invite the audience to join in post performance discussions. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday May 24 through Saturday, May 26 and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. May 27. To celebrate the reopening residents of Delaware County will enjoy two theater tickets for the price of one for the first weekend. The premier will continue Thursday May 31 to Sunday June 3. Regular admissions will be adults: $18; seniors: $15 and youths up to age 25: $10.

Reservations are recommended during the weekend by calling the theater at 586-1660. Reservations can also be made through the theater for the Dinner & Theater program or by calling participating restaurants. Theatergoers can enjoy a special menu with reservations for premium seating at the theater. Restaurants providing Dinner & Theater will include brunch before the Sunday matinees or dinner afterward.