Faculty News

The Secret Life of Seaweed

Collider Theater, a new company co-founded by Robert Murphy and Jean Randich, is dedicated to presenting work which explores the collisions of cultures. Collider has joined with HB Studio to present an EST/SLOAN Foundation commissioned play, Julie McKee's The Secret Life of Seaweed. 

The Secret Life of Seaweed by Julie McKee, directed by Jean Randich, with set and projection design by Sue Rees, assistant directed by Michaela Brown '19, runs as a performance lab co-production of Collider Theater, led by Randich, and HB Studio Playwrights Theater through February 16, 2019.

New Zealand, 1941, under threat of a Japanese invasion Louise MacGregor, formidable scientist, and Mae Smith, untried youngster, are sent on a mission in search of Pterocladia Lucida, a simple seaweed to aid the war effort.

Inspired by Lucy B. Moore’s scouring of the New Zealand coast for seaweed beds, The Secret Life of Seaweed tells the story of two women who learn to feel deeply about nature and each other in a time when expressing feelings of deep emotional sadness were forbidden for the good of all. An electric feminist journey inspired by a true scientific mission in WWII New Zealand.

The Secret Life of Seaweed

By Julie McKee
Directed by Jean Randich

February 2, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16 | 7:30 pm
Sunday matinees February 3 & 10 | 3 pm

HB Playwrights Theatre
124 Bank Street
New York, NY 10014

Featuring James Hallett*, Maggie Lacey*, Rebecca Nelson*, and Aishling Pembroke

Design by Sue Rees (Set/Projection), Elizabeth Hope Clancy (Costume), Christina Watanabe (Lighting), and Robert Murphy (Sound).

Colton Robertson (Stage Manager), Michaela Brown (Assistant Director)

Funded in part by The Ensemble Studio Theatre
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project

*Member of AEA

Tickets are free and may be reserved through Eventbrite.

Photo by Sue Rees
Photo by Sue Rees

Director Jean Randich on the production:

"In New York, we rehearsed for three weeks with four terrific actors to put the play in process on its feet. Elizabeth Hope Clancy, Robert Murphy, Sue Rees, and Christina Watanabe contribute evocative design. Not only does Ms. McKee unfold the actual historic Pterocladia Lucida mission, but she also unpacks the tenuous circumstances of women promoted into pivotal scientific research positions due to the extraordinary circumstances of war.

Collider Theater's mission is to explore what it means to belong: the essence of belonging, whether it is to family, country, heritage, the scientific community, an indigenous people, or to find oneself 'in between,' 'mixed,' and to realize that 'mixed' may be a place of great creativity, and not just exclusion. Louise and May, two powerful misfits, each a genius in her own right, one science and one art, learn from each other despite themselves. The arduous trek along the coastline yields not just the sought after seaweed, but the ability to break free from shame and come into their own power. 

We are indebted to our two Maori advisors, Dr. Ella Henry of the Auckland University of Technology, and actor/director and storyteller Rangimoana Taylor. 

Lucy B. Moore’s 1942 mission shimmers into the present. And not only the lone scientist's heroic mission, but also that of all the Maori who made the harvesting of the seaweed possible. In Ms. McKee’s imaginative space, scientific perception of the world and Maori cosmology exist simultaneously to wrenching emotional effect."