Corrib Theatre presents the Northwest Premiere of LIFEBOAT

By: Dec. 21, 2017
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Corrib Theatre presents the Northwest Premiere of  LIFEBOAT With a bracing true story of determination and hope, Corrib Theatre and Northwest Children's Theater present Nicola McCartney's Lifeboat. Directed by Avital Shira and starring Kayla Lian and Britt Harris, this riveting play by an award-winning Irish playwright runs for four weeks, January 12 through February 4, at Northwest Children's Theater.

Lifeboat is the extraordinary true story of Bess Walder and Beth Cummings. Set during World War II, it is a story of courage, a story of survival and a story of enduring friendship.

On Friday the thirteenth of September 1940, a ship, The City of Benares, set sail from Liverpool bound for Canada. On board were 90 child evacuees escaping the relentless bombing and dangers of war torn Britain. Four days into the crossing, the ship was torpedoed and sank. Only 11 children aboard survived. Of those few, two young girls, Bess Walder (15) and Beth Cummings (14), clung to life as they spent 19 terrifying hours in the water on an upturned lifeboat. With the hopes and dreams upon which they'd set sail, they buoyed one another's spirits with stories of home, family and adventure. Bess and Beth inspired each other to survive. Lifeboat tells their story.

"At its core, Lifeboat is a play about resilience," said play Director Avital Shira. "These two young women defy the odds through connection, story and the will to save the other to ultimately survive longer than humans should be able in the middle of the Atlantic. The world is dark at the moment, and it's especially important now to harness the power of human resilience and remind ourselves that if we find our common humanity, we have the ability to keep each other afloat."

This is a true story centered around two teenage girls during the evacuation of British children during World War II. Know as "Operation Pied Piper," the British evacuation of children began on Friday, September 1, 1939. The ship the young girls in this story were sailing on was the City of Benares. It was carrying 191 passengers (90 of them children) and 216 shipmates, 407 souls all told -- 260 perished (79 children) and 147 survived (11 children). Details about this ship and its demise are here. More information about the British evacuation initiative is here and here. To learn more about how children were affected by WWII read this. Here's a short overview about the major events and effects of World War II from Britain's perspective here.

Corrib Theatre presents
by Nicola McCartney
JAN 12 - FEB 4, 2018

DIRECTOR: Avital Shira

CAST: Kayla Lian (Bess) & Britt Harris (Beth)

CREATIVE TEAM: Kim Williams (Set & Props Design), Sarah Hughey~ (Lighting Design), Amir Shirazi (Sound Design), Gina Piva (Costume Design), Charlotte Headrick (Dramaturg), Karl Hanover (Dialect Coach), Emily Trimble (Stage Manager, Production Manager)

~Represented by United Scenic Artists


Nicola McCartney, originally from Belfast, is an award-winning writer and director, based in Scotland. A graduate of Glasgow University, she was Artistic Director of Glasgow-based new writing theatre company, lookOUT from 1992 to 2002. Her plays include Heritage, Lifeboat and Easy. Her most recent plays include, Rough Island (Mull Theatre/Oran Mor), Sullom Voe (BBC Radio Drama), Dear Scotland (National Theatre Scotland). Nicola has worked as a dramaturg for a range of companies including Vanishing Point and the Edinburgh International Festival 2005. She has had a range of residencies both academic and community based and is one of the Associate Playwrights of the new Playwrights Studio Scotland. She was a recipient of a Creative Scotland Award 2003 to work on her first novel entitled, Ice Angel and also works in radio, TV and film. She is currently under commission to, among others, National Theatre of Scotland, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh and The Abbey Theatre Dublin.


Avital Shira is a director, theatre educator, and community organizer who is passionate about building and empowering communities through sharing stories. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Shira is a graduate of Yale University and is currently pursuing an MFA in directing at Boston University, where she will direct Intimate Apparel and You Got Older this upcoming spring.

Portland directing credits include The Honey of his Music Vows (Coho Lab), Love's Labours Lost (Post5), The Adventures of Hershel of Ostropol (Jewish Theatre Collaborative), Two Gentlemen of Verona (DISJECTA), Twelfth Night (Portland Actors Ensemble) and numerous staged readings, including Ursula Rani Sarma's Orpheus Road for Corrib Theatre. Shira is a founding company member of Sycamore Theatre Company ( and has directed around the country and assistant directed at theatres including Lincoln Center, Denver Center of Performing Arts, Portland Center Stage, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Writers Theatre and Shakespeare Santa Cruz.


Corrib Theatre engages, inspires, entertains, and challenges audiences with theatrical productions filtered through the Irish experience, and with a focus on contemporary and lesser-known voices; we foster a diverse theatre community in our artists and patrons, and celebrate the essential power of the theatre to illuminate our common humanity. Gemma Whelan is the founding Artistic Director of Corrib Theatre.

For its fifth year of offering Portland plays by contemporary Irish playwrights, Corrib Theatre brings three gripping, politically relevant works: Belfast Girls by Jaki McCarrick (Nov 17 - Dec 10, 2017), Lifeboat by Nicola McCartney (Jan 12 - Feb 4, 2018) and Quietly by Owen McCafferty (Apr 13 - May 6, 2018). This set of play selections are all by internationally produced, award-winning playwrights. Tickets for Lifeboat and Quietly are on sale now at Brown Paper Tickets.

"These three plays bear out Corrib's mission of presenting challenging works with universal resonance, filtered through the Irish experience," said Gemma Whelan, Corrib's Founding Artistic Director. "Each of these stories speaks to the triumph of communication and connection in the face of violence, chauvinism, xenophobia and hatred."

Corrib Theatre's 2017-18 season is sponsored by Ronni Lacroute and made possible with support from Ard-Chonsalacht na hÉireann/Consulate General of Ireland, Ira and Leonore Gershwin Philanthropic Fund, Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, Oregon Arts Commission, Jackson Foundation and Miller Foundation. Lifeboat is sponsored by Ellyn Bye.


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