Greater Boston Stage Company Corner is a new column by Ilyse Robbins, associate artistic director of the Greater Boston Stage Company. Here is her first column:

 

Welcome to the Greater Boston Stage Company Corner! We’re thrilled to bring you news about our theatre, the people who create here, and the wonderful opportunities in store for you to share our work with us. We hope you’ll Come Out and Play! 

Greater Boston Stage Company just rolled into its 20th season with the world premiere of Producing Artistic Director Weylin Symes’ hilarious and heart-warming "Last Night at Bowl-Mor Lanes" — a look at friendship, love, competition, and … bowling. 

We had a few questions for Weylin. First off…

 

Q. Where do you get your ideas from? 

A. This play came about because of one simple idea. I was sitting around one day and thought “how cool would it be to watch someone bowl on stage?” And voila! A play was born. 

I’m a bit obsessed with telling stories that feature suburban settings with people who look and feel like the people who live around our theatre. In a way, this play is a bit of an homage to the building we occupy and to a generation of women who don’t always get to see themselves on stage. Back in the mid-20th-century, the basement of Stoneham Theatre (where our offices and rehearsal spaces are now) used to house a bowling alley. You can still see where the lanes used to be in the concrete under our rehearsal room floors. And, believe it or not, since my family is originally from Stoneham, my father actually used to set pins in the alley when he was a teenager. 

Growing up, my parents had five couples who they would get together with many times a year to hang out, go to the beach, barbecue, ski, cut Christmas trees, whatever. This group, always led by the women, were known as “The Group.” They were loud, often inappropriate, regularly drank and smoked too much around us kids, and were prone to burst into loud, out-of-tune songs that we’d never heard of. They were also fiercely protective and affectionate and provided some of the best memories I have of my childhood. That group is mostly gone now, but bringing Maude and Ruth to life in Bowl-Mor Lanes is my little way of keeping their spirit alive and remembering how much they valued friendship and family.

 

Q. What can we expect from GBSC’s 20th Season?

A. How do you celebrate 20 years? As we headed into Season 20, we asked ourselves that question a lot. We thought about a "greatest hits" season of favorite shows. Then we considered a whole season of brand-new titles highlighting our commitment to new work. But, in the end, we decided to produce the type of great theatre that has come to be expected from GBSC: familiar stories told in fresh new ways alongside exciting new work and, sometimes, both ideas combined into one show. Here at GBSC, we’re single-minded in our efforts to bring our audiences the most diverse, exciting and entertaining shows we possibly can in our friendly, intimate setting. We want to make sure that every visit to our theatre is memorable and different and maybe, just maybe, leaves people looking at the world a little bit differently.

 

Coming up at GSCS 

With this in mind, our 20th season has a great mix of new titles, an old favorite or two and one completely off-the-wall new play. This year’s shows run the gamut from an exploration of a forgotten gospel/rock icon of the 1930s and 40s to the Broadway blockbuster "Matilda," plus the follow-up to Season 18 audience favorite "Miss Holmes." Add to that a classic holiday story, Symes’ new play set in a shuttered Massachusetts bowling alley, and Jen Silverman’s darkly comedic absurdist riff on the Bronte sisters, and we promise you six unforgettable evenings of live theatre that will surprise and delight you. 

 

About the play

"Last Night at Bowl-Mor Lanes" is directed by Elliot Norton Award-winner Bryn Boice. The play features Nancy E. Carroll, Arthur Gomez, Paula Plum and Ceit Zweil. And introducing Young Company member, Isabella Tedesco as Teddy.

Performances run Sept. 5-29. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at Greater Boston Stage Company at 781-279-2200, or visit www.greaterbostonstage.org.

 

Ilyse Robbins is associate artistic director of the Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham.