In director Amy Lane's mind, “Recommended Reading for Girls” is about stories versus memory.
“Every family has its own legends and mythology,” Lane said. “My brothers will tell stories, and they're different from what I remember. Memories get blurred. Stories change.”
“Recommended Reading for Girls,” Omaha playwright Ellen Struve's new play, has its world premiere Friday at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The play centers on an adult daughter, Amy (Christina Rohling), who returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing mother (Mary Kelly).
What if her mother dies? What if all that's left is stories of her? And what if those stories are wrong?
Lane said the relationships that form between mothers and their adult daughters are fertile ground for Struve's comedy to explore. The father is a strong presence in the story as well, though he never appears.
“This is about a mother and daughter at a crossroads,” Lane said. “They're real people — not always likable, not always right, but they always love each other.”
Lane has been involved in the play's development since she played one of the parts in a reading at the Playhouse in 2010. She worked with Struve on revisions, particularly in Act 2, last summer. Struve said she felt particularly lucky that someone who has been supportive of the play from the start is directing it.
Since the story includes the appearances of heroines from some of the daughter's favorite childhood books, costumer Sharon Sobel and scenic designer Steve Williams approached their work from the idea of stepping into a storybook and bringing it to life.
“Ellen was drawing on things from her childhood, books that she read and her mother read and her grandmother read,” Lane said. “That's another way of passing down stories we love.”
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