What would you do if someone decided to write and sell your story – your history, your past loves, your regrets – without your permission? How much of your story, particularly the details of your life that are out in public for everyone to see, is truly yours? This is one of the central questions in the play Collected Stories by Donald Margulies, produced by Brainerd Community Theatre and presented by the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center. This two-character play stars Laura Busch as Ruth, a celebrated author, and explores her six-year relationship with her protégé, Lisa, a talented yet naive writer played by Kryston Wiseley.
The play is directed by Corrine Johnson, a Theatre faculty member at Central Lakes College. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and has also taught at St. Ambrose University, Luther College, Augustana College, the University of Oregon and the University of Minnesota. As an actress, she has most recently been seen as Virginia in Three Viewings, Linda in Death of a Salesman, Aunt Julia in Hedda Gabler, Virginia in W;t, and Stevie in The Goat, or Who’s Sylvia? Favorite directing experiences include: Brighton Beach Memoirs, A Streetcar Named Desire, Pippin, and the premiere of TUG: This Untoward Generation. In 2017 she was awarded the Kennedy Center American College Theatre’s Gold Medallion Award for excellence in Theatre education.
Collected Stories received its world premiere at South Coast Repertory in 1996, where it won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Production of a Play and Best Original Play. The play was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Collected Stories later premiered Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1997. The production starred Maria Tucci and Debra Messing and was directed by Lisa Peterson. It received the Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Play and was a finalist for the Dramatists Guild/Hull-Warriner Award for Best Play.
In 2010, the play was produced on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, with Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson in the lead roles. The production was also a critical success, receiving multiple award nominations, including a Tony Award nomination for Linda Lavin.
Donald Margulies is an American playwright and professor of English and Theater Studies at Yale University. He won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Dinner with Friends and was a finalist twice before for Sight Unseen and Collected Stories. His many other plays, which include Long Lost, The Country House, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, Brooklyn Boy, the Tony Award-nominated Time Stands Still and the Obie Award-winning The Model Apartment, have been produced on and off-Broadway and in theaters across the United States and around the world. Mr. Margulies has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The New York Foundation for the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Margulies is celebrated for his ability to capture the complexity of human relationships and his insightful observations on contemporary life.
Joey Yow, Director of the Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center, credits Collected Stories as being particularly relevant to our modern times. “How many of us have uploaded years of details about our personal lives to social media sites under the naïve assumption that only our friends and family would take note or interest? As we’ve moved into the era of the mass repurposing of knowledge for the sake of fast reads and entertainment, I find myself so much more protective of what information I share with the world about my family, my accomplishments, and my struggles. From regurgitated blog posts, analysis writers in media, homemade YouTube reaction videos, and AI-tools scrubbing the internet to create facsimile of human writing, it feels as if we are always having someone else’s thoughts and creations repackaged to us (usually, without credit.) Collected Stories gets right at the heart of our modern conundrum – how much control do we have, or even should expect to have, of our own story, particularly when the cultural expectation is that we freely share that story? How much of what is known about us in the world can be changed or manipulated, and can we ever regain the truth?”
Collected Stories runs Thursday through Saturday evenings from April 27 to May 6, 2023 at the Dryden Theatre, Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN. Doors open at 6:30. Show begins at 7:00 and lasts two hours with intermission. Tickets are available at www.clcperformingarts.com and at the Box Office (218-855-8199).