MUSKEGON — West Michigan theatre veteran Penelope Notter (pictured) of Grand Rapids is directing Muskegon Civic Theatre’s production of playwright Deborah Brevoort’s drama “The Women of Lockerbie.”
The show will run Feb. 15 through March 2 at the 165-seat Beardsley Theater in downtown Muskegon.
The cast and artistic staff have spent extensive time and effort studying the true-life tragedy on which “The Women of Lockerbie” is based, the 1988 terrorist bombing of a commercial airliner above Lockerbie, Scotland.
Here are some of Notter’s observations and comments:
“As theatre artists, when working on an historic event, it is our obligation to study the data of the event. Long before we started rehearsals, the cast and production team began collecting articles and information about the Lockerbie crash on our private Facebook page. The actors needed to understand the event fully to create a memory for their characters. We compiled hundreds of pictures and pages of information. We chatted with each other on the page. When we finally started rehearsals, we spent several days going over the articles and reviewing the events surrounding the crash. There was so much information available.
“The washing of the clothes: We were all stunned to learn about the washing of the clothes of the victims. Over 11,000 pieces of clothing were washed and returned to the families by the real women of Lockerbie. Sixteen women washed from January to November, every day of the week.
“The FBI was so inspired by the real-life women of Lockerbie that it created a unit dedicated to returning the belongings of terror victims to their families. The kindness of those 16 Lockerbie women prompted the creation of the FBI’s Victim Services Division — a team of 72 agents based at the bureau’s Washington headquarters — to follow in their footsteps, painstakingly cleaning personal items found in the wake of atrocities and delivering them to relatives of the dead and wounded. It meant that victims of the 9/11 attacks, the bombings in Bali and the Boston marathon, as well as Paris and the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida, had their possessions cleaned and sent back to their families.
“The legacy of these courageous woman from a small Scottish village has impacted the world.
“Thirty years ago: This past Dec. 21, 2018 marked the 30-year anniversary of the Pam Am crash over Lockerbie, Scotland. Hundreds of families, friends, FBI personnel, and government officials gathered at Arlington National Cemetery for a memorial service on a hilltop at the Lockerbie Cairn. The Cairn, through its 270 blocks of red Scottish sandstone, memorializes the 270 lives lost in the terrorist attack. It is a gift of the people of Scotland to the people of the United States, financed entirely through private donations.
“Investigation continues: The FBI case of Pan Am 103 is still open today. FBI director, Christopher Wray told the crowd at the recent memorial, ‘The FBI has not forgotten those 270 lives lost 30 years ago. We have not forgotten our responsibility to find those behind the attack and to bring whatever measure of peace and justice we can. Yes, the wheels of justice may turn too slowly at times. But we never, ever forget.’ ”
Appearing in MCT’s “The Women of Lockerbie” are real-life husband and wife Natalie and Joe Carmolli as American spouses Madeline and Bill Livingston; Rebecca Anderson as Olive Allison; Cynthia Bates Twining as Hattie; Kristopher Arnold as George Jones; and as The Women, Diane Van Wesep, Lorrell Pepple, Erin Mickelson and Martha Kallenbach.
Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 16, 21-23 and Feb. 28 through March 2; and 3 p.m. Feb. 17 and 24.
Tickets are $22 for regular adult admission, and $20 for students and senior citizens. To reserve, either visit the MCT website, www.muskegoncivictheatre.org; or call — (231) 727-8001 — or visit the Frauenthal Center Box Office. Box office hours are weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. The box office also is open two hours before performances.