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Posted on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Wild Swan Theater to premiere 'Shipwrecked!'

By Staff

Wild Swan Theater, Ann Arbor’s award-winning professional theater for families, will premiere a new play, "Shipwrecked!", for elementary and middle school aged youth and their families from March 14-18 at the Towsley Auditorium at Washtenaw Community College.

"Shipwrecked!" is a sailing story, set in 1893, that follows the travails of 12-year-old Aaron Buchanan when his family's schooner is caught in a fierce storm while he is at the helm. Young as he is, Aaron has sailed with his parents for years, ferrying cargo from their home port of Detroit to ports through the Great Lakes. As the family is returning from Sault St. Marie on Lake Huron in November with a huge load of Christmas trees, they are caught in a ferocious gale that sweeps through Thunder Bay, infamously known as Shipwreck Alley. With assistance from the lighthouse keepers on Thunder Bay Island, a crew of surfmen from the lifesaving station brave 40 knot winds and sixteen foot waves to effect a daring rescue.

This historically-based, original drama has been written by long time Wild Swan playwright Jeff Duncan. Director Hilary Cohen is thrilled with the collaboration with our museum and education partners.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity for Wild Swan to learn about the history of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes from an incredible group of experts," Cohen said in a press release. "They are helping make the show really authentic. We think this will be a great way for upper elementary and middle school students to become excited about learning about our lakes.”

The cast includes Wild Swan favorites Sandy Ryder, Michelle Trame Lanzi, Jeremy Salvatori and ASL interpreter Jamie Fidler and newcomer to the Wild Swan stage Brett Radke. Award-winning musician David Mosher has composed original music as well as a soundscape of authentic sounds: timbers creaking, waves crashing, winds howling.

Located in the heart of The Great Lakes, Michigan possesses a rich maritime heritage and borders the largest supply of fresh water on the planet. “Given its importance,” project director Dorothy Ebersole said in a press release, “it is essential that youth and families discover and explore the role of the Great Lakes in shaping our history and our future.” For this play, Wild Swan has partnered with organizations with broad environmental education and history expertise and important collections and exhibits on Michigan’s maritime history: the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Michigan Historical Museum, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Michigan Geographic Alliance, and Michigan Council for History Education. The play and associated educational materials are made possible in part with a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wild Swan Theater will be taking "Shipwrecked!" on the road to our partner sites in Detroit, Lansing, and Alpena in the spring and summer of 2012.

Wild Swan Theater is dedicated to producing professional theater of the highest artistic quality for young people and families that is accessible, diverse and inclusive, through affordable ticket prices and innovative outreach programs. For more information or tickets to "Shipwrecked!", call 734-995-0530 or visit