Co-producer Kymberlee della Luce sat down with me to talk about the generation of A Pyrate’s Life: Anne Bonny.

What was your inspiration for Anne Bonny?
The idea came from one of my teachers, Keira McDonald, who suggested I look into female pirates. This would engage my love of history, and give me the chance to incorporate stage combat and dialects, which I have an affinity for. It also provided the opportunity to explore a powerful woman’s story and embody her ferocity.
I didn’t really know anything about female pirates, so I Googled a list of names and read each of their bios. I was drawn to Anne’s strange origin story and the fire in her belly. She was a person who took her life into her own hands, and I find that very inspiring.

What was your creative process?
I originally developed this piece in a solo performance class at Cornish College of the Arts with Keira McDonald and Marc Kenison. We had to bring in material every week to get feedback on from the class which, by necessity, kept me rolling along. I learned what was drawing people in and what they wanted to learn more about, and that often took me in a direction I couldn’t have planned.
A lot of it was trial and error. I started out doing research, trying to learn whatever I could about her. The information out there is pretty limited, so I had to fill in the blanks along the way. I took her major life events and fleshed them out into scenes. This took me into researching the other major players in her life, like Mary Read and Calico Jack. It’s also when I had to start thinking about what these people sounded like and how they moved.
Again, the feedback that I received from my teachers and cohort was invaluable. Just because you’re doing a “solo” show, doesn’t mean you should go it alone. Quite the opposite – you need that outside set of eyes and point of view that can tell you what’s reading and what you need to specify.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your research?
I think the most surprising thing was the lack of information about what happened to her! It’s like she got arrested and then her story just stopped. This presented me with an interesting challenge, because I had to just make it up. But I’m pretty happy with the “ending” I gave her.

Do you find this character relatable? If so, why?
I think Anne embodied and experienced a lot of what women today are going through. She was born into this patriarchal system that told her she should be one thing, and she wasn’t having any of it! She charted her own course (so to speak), and yeah, she hurt people along the way, but she was living life to the fullest and being her authentic self. I know I have something to learn in that regard, and I’m sure a lot of women can relate. It can be difficult to find your own unique voice in a world that constantly demands conformity, but Anne did that.

Why this story now?
We have reached a point on a national and international level where women are really done taking men’s shit. We are done being told what to think, how to act, and what to do with our bodies. Anne Bonny was an early feminist. She defied the expectations of the men in her life and did what the fuck she wanted! While I don’t condone the ways in which she harmed people, I admire her tenacity in the pursuit of a life of her own choosing, and I believe that’s where we, as women, are headed. Not isolated, on our individual “hero’s journey,” but among community that values and cares for us – who have our back and will fight for our right to sovereignty. I don’t know that Anne truly had that, but she took the first step onto that ship, and it’s our job to keep it sailing onward.

Anne Bonny

The incessant noise drills through my spirit.
It rattles the fragile structure of my psyche,
Cutting straight to my core.
All of this “improvement” only dismantles my safe space,
My one corner of quiet
In this hellish prison of consumerism.
The slick sidewalk blocks my escape,
And the sky pours pellets 
That threaten distress
And discomfort.
When will this all plateau?
When will things be “good enough”?
Skyscrapers go up,
While the citizens’ spirits sink,
Into the cracked asphalt 
And drown in the Seattle rain.
I am choking on concrete dust
And being slowly smothered by 
And the 12th Man. 
I remember when this city felt inviting
And full of wonder.
Maybe that was childhood fantasy,
But I’d take that over this reality 
Any day.

by Zaidaan Shibuya
Others Who Were Here
Others Who Were Here
by Cris Bruch

I walk in the footsteps of those that came before me. But the land is different now. The rolling hills flattened, the mountains melting, the streets straight and narrow. Now we only see what’s right in front of us, not the realm of possibilities that open wide like the sky above.

Have you seen the mouth of Heaven open on a cloudy day? That shining abyss that seems so inviting, yet unattainable?

These days that’s what it feels like – this Life. I wish that the Sun could reach through what clouds my mind and lift me to its great height. Swallow me in its warm and gentle embrace and let me dance through the soft and billowing clouds. Get some distance. A new perspective. On life. And living.

I feel stuck in this sphere of Seattle – South Lake Union – this city. Where the stadiums and skyscrapers cast their immense shadows, and the 12th Man and Amazon reign supreme.

That same Sun that beckons me, shines on so many places beyond this city. It is not contained in this fast-paced, liberal, weed-infested bubble.

I wish I could run to the mountains – find solace in their snow-caps and hide in their hills. I see them every day, stretched out on either side of my urban cell. They, too, call for a higher purpose – a different perspective.

They coat the coast in their glistening glory. An image of perfection. Peace. Solitude. Strength.

That’s what I need most in the hustle and bustle of this ever-moving, ever-changing city.

The Seattle I once knew is gone. It has been transformed into a tech-haven, a corporate castle. A breeze has blown through the construction-covered streets, wisping all the unwanteds away.

They can stay on the outskirts. We will reinvent this city. Come in carrying our orange-and-white umbrellas, proudly presenting our blue badges. Paint the city with our crisp, clean, colors – separated segments of the Old Center.

The one I knew. The one with a purple, paint-spattered elevator and a multi-cultural mural hanging above it all. The one where children ran and danced, crawling in concrete caves and fighting over the prevailing flash of light. So much color. So vibrant and alive. The New Center is gray. Dead. Gone.

But in my mind’s eye I envision that golden, sparkling circle. Like the Sun. The one with the beautiful horses bobbing up and down, like the clouds in the crystal sky. The one I would point at, tugging at my parents’ sleeves to stand in line and proudly hand over my ticket. I would run to find my favorite one and happily hop upon it.

These days were filled with wonder and adventure. A sensory experience I seem to have lost along the way.

Except when I see the Sun stretch its beams through the incessant Seattle storm clouds and emerge, bright and victorious. It never ceases to amaze me.

This piece is inspired by the photos above.