'Unsinkable Women' Comes to UNC Pembroke
With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic close at hand, UNC Pembroke brings to the Moore Hall Auditorium stage the one-woman show "Unsinkable Women: Stories and Songs from the Titanic."
The show, written and acted by New York actress Deborah Jean Templin, will be performed on Wednesday, April 27, at 7 p.m. Admission is free and the public is welcome.
"Unsinkable Women" has been staged in New York playhouses and coast-to-coast. In story and song, it tells the Titanic story through eight women, including some of the most memorable figures of their time.
Templin will be on hand for a "talk back" after the performance, and she will conduct a workshop for UNCP students and the public at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 27, in the Choir Room of Moore Hall.
The event is sponsored by UNCP's Department of English and Theater, the Friends of Mary Livermore Library and the musical theater program.
Hal Davis, coordinator of UNCP's musical theater program, worked with Templin.
"Deborah Jean is a fine actress and singer," Davis said. "I had the privilege of working with her in the Tony Award-winner for Best Musical, 'Titanic,' during the national tour of the show.
"It was during this time she performed several of the women on the ship - from steerage to first class," he continued. "I wasn't surprised when I found out that Deborah was working on a one-woman show about these women as well as other not as well known survivors.
"It's a unique one-woman show experience - a compact evening or story and song that should not be missed."
"Unsinkable Women" is based on diaries, letters and interviews and brings to life eight famous figures, including Madeline Astor, the beautiful teenage bride of John Jacob Astor, one of the wealthiest men in America. There's Margaret Tobin Brown. the "Unsinkable Molly" - whose account of the ship's final moments bring the evening to its dramatic climax.
The characters share their stories of tragedy and triumph. Templin, whose acting credits include drama, musicals, comedy, mime and television, wrote the story while on a national tour of "Titanic." In a conversation with UNCP's Newswire, she said a number of things came together to inspire the writing of "Unsinkable Women."
"I am very interested in history," Templin said. "I'm not particularly drawn to disasters as I am to the human side of the story of these eight survivors."
While touring with "Titanic," Templin played several characters, some who survived and some who did not.
"I realized there was so much more to the story, so I tried to tell their story as accurately as possible," she said.
Some of the characters, like the "unsinkable" Molly Brown, are personal heroes for Templin.
"I hoped the audience would be inspired by their stories as I am," she said. "These are untold stories."
Templin completed research with the help of Walter Lord, author of the Titanic book, "A Night to Remember."
"I interviewed him from a hospital bed in his library that was surrounded by objects that survivors had given him," Templin said. "He encouraged me to look beyond the first class passengers for my story."
With little hard evidence of the lesser known passengers to go on, Templin followed the author's advice to "use your imagination."
"Two of my characters are composites, but it is a truthful portrayal," she said.
"Unsinkable Women" has played in more than 100 venues across the U.S. since 2003, and it promises to be in demand in 2012, the centennial year of the Titanic's sinking.
"I've performed for audiences in period costumes and in turn of the century opera houses," Templin said. "I've enjoyed the entire process."
"Unsinkable Women" offers period songs from vaudeville numbers to Victor Herbert's "Toyland." Accurate Edwardian-era costumes are housed onstage in an old-fashioned wardrobe trunk. During the show, Templin changes into them and shifts from character to character in full view of the audience.
Nationally acclaimed as a remarkable tour-de-force, "Unsinkable Women" has been called "the most affecting and truthful version of the Titanic story to date."
More like this story