80th Anniversary for The Lost Colony

Tony Award Winning Play Gears Up for 2017 Season
Native Americans dance a welcome as the first English colonists of the Lost Colony arrive.
Native Americans dance a welcome as the first English colonists of the Lost Colony arrive.

When Paul Green wrote the script for The Lost Colony in 1937 he probably didn’t expect the play to run for 80 years. But that is what has happened.

Last night, Friday, Many 26 when the lights went up at the Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island it marked the 80th year for the play—a remarkable achievement by any standard.

Paul Green’s Script

Paul Green, was a North Carolina resident and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright when he was approached by a group of Manteo business men hoping to bring some measure of economic activity to the Outer Banks in the depths of the Great Depression.

The play succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest hopes and in August of the first year’s run, President Roosevelt made a trip to Manteo to see the play.

The play tells the story of Roanoke Colony…the Lost Colony. Attempting to establish a permanent English settlement in North America in 1585, the 120 colonists disappeared without a trace. The mystery of their fate endures until today.

A fairly accurate depiction of the forces at work that doomed the colony is contained in the play. The competing factions of the Native Americans living in the area are part of the plot; the wanton cruelty of some of the English decisions about the Indians is touched upon if not emphasized.

Perhaps most importantly the role the Spanish played in the New World and the Spanish Armada that attempted to invade England are important facets of the tale.

The 2017 Performance

The play has remained remarkably true to Green’s original script, although there have been some adjustments over the years.

The pacing of the play has been has been improved so that it moves a bit faster than the original.

William Ivey Long, who has won multiple theater awards is the production designer, and the staging of the play reflects his Broadway and movie experience.

An outdoor experience, the play, though has endured because of the power of its message and the beauty of its setting.

The play runs through the summer with the last performance Saturday, August 19.

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