PRESS RELEASE: Tending to Grace – The Play

Based on the novel by Kimberly Newton Fusco
Adapted for the stage by Laurie Smith Murphy
Directed by Liz Goulet Dubois and Laurie Murphy
November 10-12 and 17-19, 2017

“I want to hide because my life, if it were a clothesline, would be the one with a sweater dangling by one sleeve, a blanket dragging in the mud, and a sock, unpaired and alone, tumbling to the road with the wind at its heel.” – Cornelia Thornhill

Thus begins the story of 14-year-old Cornelia, a neglected teen who is dropped off by her look-away mother and “the boyfriend” at the falling-down farm of her great- aunt Agatha, whom the girl’s never met.  The loving bond that grows between the young girl and the older woman creates a story of courage and resilience, and of finding your voice when no one will listen.

Tending to Grace was awarded the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award for its empathetic portrayal of a young girl who stutters.  It lends itself well to teaching writing because of its lyrical prose and tender message.

“From the moment I read the book,” former teacher Laurie Murphy explains, “I knew my students would benefit from the beautiful figurative language.” Even after she left teaching to pursue writing, Murphy kept returning to the story. “I started to visualize it on the stage and I just knew it would make a stunning play.”  Murphy  has been involved with Swamp Meadow since its inception in 2003 when she was cast as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. But this is her first time directing, and her first time writing a play.

Murphy asked her friend, fellow thespian and writer/illustrator, Liz Goulet Dubois, to co-direct with her. Liz has written and directed for the stage in the past, and quickly jumped on board. “I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this story to life on the stage. The themes in it resonate more than ever, and now our audience will be able to connect with these characters in a very real way. Having the author, Kim, as a part of our team gives us reassurance that this show will be both true to the story, and adapted in a sensitive way.”

When Murphy began working on the script, she was surprised how well the story adapted, like it was tailor-made for the stage. The main character, Cornelia, stutters, but the novel is filled with inner-dialogue, and when Cornelia shares her innermost feelings to herself, she speaks fluently. My teacher is a look-away. I am a bookworm, a bibliophile, a passionate lover of books. “I’m hoping this technique works and that the audience understands this. I think they will.”

When Murphy brought the idea to the author, who is local to Foster, she was very excited.  “It’s been such a thrilling experience to read the script and see how my novel is now told completely through dialogue,” said Fusco, who regularly visits classes and speaks to students who have read her novels. She visited Murphy’s third and fifth-grade classes many times over the years, and enjoys inspiring children to write. “I always hope my books make a difference in a child’s life,” she said.

Fusco’s newest novel, Chasing Augustus, will be published in September by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, in the US, and by Faber & Faber, London. She will be available for Q+A sessions at select shows.

Make sure Tending to Grace is on your calendar.

  • Auditions will be held August 11 + 12, with callbacks Aug. 14, from 6-9 pm at the Eddy Building in Foster.
  • Show dates are November 10, 11, 17 + 18 at 7 pm, and Nov. 12 +19 at 2pm, and take place at the Captain Isaac Paine School auditorium in Foster, RI.
  • More information and tickets available at

Rumors Press Release


Swamp Meadow Community Theatre Presents
A Comedy By Neil Simon
Directed by Bob Hollis and Jayne Lear
April 28- May 7, 2016

“This play has no socially redeeming qualities, but you will laugh the whole way through!”

That’s how Neil Simon described his show, RUMORS, when it first hit the stage in 1988. Director Bob Hollis was attracted to Simon’s story years ago, lured by the lunacy and lightning-fast repartee of the script. He knew that it would be a challenge to get the comedic timing just right in a show like this, but he felt that Swamp Meadow Community Theatre could pull it off.

The show takes a routine 10th anniversary party in Myra and Charley’s high-end neighborhood, and adds quirky friends, missing persons, indistinct clues, gunshots, and botched cover-ups. Rumors fly as the partygoers get deeper and deeper into chaos- and oh, is that the police at the door?

When the show finally received the green light, Bob knew that beyond finding a top-notch cast, he would also need the best behind-the-scenes support crew he could find.

Enter Co-Director Jayne Lear, who has been working alongside him to make sure all the nuanced language shines and that the cast receives notes on all aspects of their performances at each rehearsal.

Another key player in this production is 17-year-old Stage Manager Isabella Giorgianni. If you think a teenager isn’t capable of keeping all the moving parts of a production running smoothly, then you haven’t met Izzi!

Izzi first came to SMCT at age 5, when she was cast in her very first show, Peter Pan. She honed her acting skills for many years in SMCT’s productions, and became very familiar with the way things operated there.

Homeschooled through her early years, she later began attending The Prout School as a high school student. It was in Prout’s theatre department that she became attuned to a more traditional theatrical management style, and knew that she wanted to bring what she learned back to SMCT as a Stage Manager.

“Teaching the proper way to run theatrical shows became my mission. I really felt that children, especially in the context of our summer shows, deserved to have their first theatre experiences reflect how professional theatres worked.”

She implemented those managerial skills in the Summer 2015 production of Tom Sawyer. The difference was noticeable and positive, and so became the new norm for SMCT. It’s safe to say that she has left her mark! Izzi’s love for stage management isn’t just a “stage” she’s going through – she intends to study it full-time in college this fall.

The beauty of good stage management, of course, is invisible- when you see a show like RUMORS unfold, and you are immersed in the story, forgetting you are in a theatre and laughing all the way through, then you’ll know that Izzi, Bob, Jayne and the whole cast and crew have done their job!

RUMORS show dates are:
Friday, April 28th at 7:00pm
Saturday, April 29th, at 7:00pm
Sunday, April 30th, at 2:00pm
Friday, May 5th, at 7:00pm
Saturday, May 6th, at 7:00 m
Sunday, May 7th, at 2:00pm

Location: Captain Isaac Paine Auditorium, 160 Foster Center Road, Foster, RI 02825

Tickets may be ordered online at or by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006. Tickets may also be purchased at the door within one hour of the show.

SMCT’s Web Page, including cast list and photos, is here:

Note: This show contains strong language, and so parental discretion is advised.

Any questions about the production may be directed to:
Liz Goulet Dubois
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Apocalypse Now Press Release


Swamp Meadow Community Theatre Presents
An Original Stage Adaptation by Shane Inman
Made with kind permission of American Zoetrope

December 2-11, 2016

“Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared.”

Something unusual and compelling is happening in the woods of Foster, RI this December. Swamp Meadow Community Theatre, known in the area for their inclusive, family-friendly productions, is exploring brave, new territory with an original stage adaptation of Apocalypse Now.

Like the classic Francis Ford Coppola movie on which it is based, this staged adaptation does not flinch in showing the madness and horrors of war. The show takes place in the jungles of Cambodia, where a decorated colonel—along with his entire platoon—has turned his back on the Army, and Captain Benjamin Willard is dispatched with orders to assassinate the alleged madman.

Why recreate this particular show? Author and director Shane Inman, a senior at Rhode Island College, had a vision he wanted to share, and through sheer will managed to obtain permission from Coppola’s American Zoetrope studio to make it happen. “The story told by Apocalypse Now is such an essential look at humanity through a lens we don’t see very often. There’s so much darkness to it, but it’s not grim just for the sake of being grim—it has something to say about who we are in places no one can see. To me, one of the things that defines art is this exploration of what it means to be human, and I wanted to bring Apocalypse Now to the stage to see if giving it this more immediate, tangible sort of life could draw the audience even further into the darkness of the piece.”

When asked why he wanted to bring this show to light now, he said, “Even though it’s set in a very specific period of history, Apocalypse Now is a timeless piece, and it picks up new significance in each era. Our culture today is so caught up in and terrified by this idea of growing detachment from other people—whether it be due to technological or ideological divides—and I think this is something that a lot of people are going to see resonating through this play. The movie might have been written decades ago, but stories about human nature are tricky; they always find a way to speak about where we are at this exact moment in time.

The cast is in full rehearsal mode, and is working on the nuances of their performances. Much of the show takes place on a PBR boat, and that has added an extra challenge for the cast. It takes a special kind of actor to try out for a show like this, and they are proving daily that they are up to that challenge. Come see this pertinent, one-of-a-kind show during it’s 6-performance run in December.

Apocalypse Now shows run Dec. 2, 3 at 7:00 pm, and Dec. 4 at 2:00 pm, and Dec. 9, 10 at 7:00 pm and Dec. 11 at 2:00 pm.

Location: Captain Isaac Paine Auditorium, 160 Foster Center Road, Foster, RI 02825

Tickets may be ordered online at or by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006. Tickets may also be purchased at the door within one hour of the show.

SMCT’s Web Page, including cast list and photos, is here:

Parental guidance suggested. Contains strong language and violence. May not be appropriate for younger viewers.

Any questions about the production can be directed to:
Liz Goulet Dubois
email hidden; JavaScript is required

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