note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Carl A. Rossi
Jennifer Lee Levitz:
Marianne (urchin diver); Evelyn (aquaculturist); Terri (fish auctioneer)
Susan (fisherman’s wife; mother); Jane (lobster fisherman);
Pat (fisherman’s wife; fisher)
Mary Jo (ferryboat captain); Linda G. (swordfish captain);
Yuberquis (fisherman’s widow; Dominican)
M. Lynda Robinson:
Judith (government liaison); Shirley (waterfront worker);
Linda B. (originator, Fisherman’s Wives)
Debbie (fisherman’s wife); Connie (101 year old lighthouse keeper);
Carol (Irish clam digger, pregnant)
WOMEN AND THE SEA, a moving tone-poem for six female voices, briefly played at Gloucester’s West End Theatre. Based on Shelley Berc and Anita Stewart’s interviews of women in the local fishing industry, it dispensed with the traditional image of shawl-draped women staring out to sea, waiting for their men to return --- a fisherman’s wife is a true partner in both marriage and business with the wife running things on land if not pitching in on water. There was salty humor whenever a woman had to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession, there were far-from-idyllic childhoods and hearty camaraderie, there was anger over forced shutdowns of family-run industries, there was the loss of loved ones at sea, there was pride in being called “fisherman” rather than the politically-correct “fisher” and there was the occasional flash of poetry such as an aquaculturist looking into a salmon’s eye and contemplating the thousand miles it has swum that she herself will never know.
The production’s five character actresses, spunky and stoic, shone like beacons buffeted by the elements but never faltering; June Lewin continues to have the loveliest of stage voices and Deborah Linehan, last seen as a horse with a Russian accent, made a strapping yet vulnerable earth mother (a future Miss Amelia for Carson McCullers?); Nicole Dahlmer, the ensemble’s candle, flickered in her readings but did not lapse into being merely adorable (even though she is). M. Lynda Robinson orchestrated the voices, including her own, with a stripped-down simplicity and the town of Gloucester provided the perfect atmospheric setting --- at low tide.