Midnight and Moll Flanders
A Girl of the Limberlost
A comic-drama about the power of friendship and the written word, BOSWELL'S DREAMS is grounded in the friendship between the 18th century writers James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. The play interweaves that time period with the 1950s and the surprise discovery of Boswell's journals by Joan, an ambitious American graduate student. Act I offers up scenes from David Garrick's HAMLET, gatherings of Johnson's literary club (including Oliver Goldsmith and Joshua Reynolds) and highlights from Boswell and Johnson's wild and woolly "Tour of the Scottish Hebrides" in 1773. ACT II counterpoints that period with scenes from 1950 at the Boswell family estate in Auchinleck, Scotland, where Joan and her domineering professor are searching for Johnson material (Johnson was then far more esteemed). There we witness snobbish conversations over cocktails and Joan's discovery in the stable-loft of Boswell's often libidinous Journals, long hidden out of family shame. Speaking through his Journals and bittersweet life experiences, Boswell encourages Joan to resist pressure and stand on her own -- as Johnson encouraged him. She falls in love with the lively narratives and, as a result, the possibility of a fuller, more authentic life.
It makes me want to go right out for a copy of
Johnson's dictionary and Boswell's diaries.
Time Out Reviews, www.gmtoday.com, March 16, 2005.
The set of BOSWELL'S DREAMS should be simple and versatile, since the play has many fluid jumps in time and place. Specificity can be effected most efficiently with costumes, sound and props.
7-9 actors (5-6 men and 2-3 women). The play calls for an ensemble of actors playing multiple roles. The role of Boswell, however, needs to be played by one male actor with no doubling. Ideally the actor who plays the role of Johnson plays no other visible part, but he could be doubled. Ideally, the female actor who plays the role of Joan would play no other. In the premiere production, there were 9 actors: 6 men and 3 women.
The first production ran just over two hours, with one intermission.
Kohler developed BOSWELL'S DREAMS over a several year period, including five in-house readings/workshops (2001-2005), one public reading (2004) and a full production mounted by Renaissance Theaterworks in March 2005. Norma Saldivar, (Director of Graduate Directing Program, Department of Theater and Drama, University of Wisconsin Madison) directed both the development, workshops and production of BOSWELL'S DREAMS.
- Production: Renaissance Theaterworks, Off-Broadway Theatre, March 2005
- Public Reading: Renaissance Theaterworks, Off-Broadway Theatre, October 2004
- Workshops: January 2005; October 2004
- In-house Readings: January 2005; April 2004; October 2004; November 2004; November 2003; November 2002; November 2001
Susan Smith Blackburn Prize – Nominee 2005
Best of Year – Milwaukee Magazine 2005
Abingdon Award – Finalist 2005
Wisconsin Wrights – Finalist 2005
A SAMPLING OF AUDIENCE RESPONSE