Pride's Crossing logoPride's Crossing
by Tina Howe

May 4 - 26, 2001
Directed by Jo Perryman

Long-distance swimming is about perseverance. In Tina Howe's fictional biography of an American woman who swam the English Channel, the distance is also the long life of Mabel Tidings Bigelow in "Pride's Crossing." - Tina Howe's comedy-drama, voted Best American Play of 1998 by the New York Drama Critics' Circle.

The Croquet Party When we first meet Mabel she is in her nineties. Rather deaf, she moves with the aid of a walker and now lives in modest circumstances in what was once the chauffeur's cottage of her old family estate in Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts. 

On this Fourth of July weekend she is being visited by her granddaughter and great-granddaughter who live in Paris. In honor of their visit, Mabel decides to throw a croquet party on the lawn of the overgrown family home. It's the type of party that her wealthy Boston blue-blood relations would have once staged.


Misti Pryor and Emma Kate StarlingDuring the visit and preparations for the party, various items and spoken phrases trigger memories in Mabel's mind, and we see her relive experiences from the past eighty years of her life, which includes setting a world record for swimming the English Channel from Dover to Calais in 1928.

This daring feat was extremely unconventional for an upper class Yankee girl at a time when well-bred young ladies were expected to be demure. In the words of Mabel's mother, "I won't have this sort of behavior. . . .You are delicate."



Emma Kate Starling as MabelAlthough Mabel seems to rise above the social confines of the times, we see, during the course of the play, that she never entirely escapes. Instead of following her heart, she remains in a socially proper, but loveless, abusive marriage, and still never satisfies her parents' expectations. 

Nevertheless, the final portrait is of a lady of unquenchable high spirits and the play ends with a moment of great anticipation and promise.

Ultimately, Ms. Howe's "Pride's Crossing" imparts ideas about pursuing one's dream, about the family baggage we tote from generation to generation and about seizing the moment.

Ms. Howe has said: "I knew as the century ended I wanted to write a play celebrating the female spirit and endurance. I'm impressed with the passion of elderly women, and I wanted to show a woman whose spirit is still vibrant even if her body is not."

Jamie Brewster and Stephanie Gerst Although a 19-year-old New Yorker named Gertrude Ederle swam the English Channel in 1926, beating every record on the books, Howe's play was actually inspired by her 90-year-old Aunt Maddy who never left home and never swam a stroke. She grew up in a household where women were expected to watch the world from the porch, albeit a grand porch. 

In her notes for the Broadway playbill, Tina Howe writes, "So this is a replay for my beloved aunt. This time she rises like a phoenix above the porch, house, shoreline and all."




Joshua Jamison Irick and Robert Curry


Emma Kate Starling and Misti Pryor

Mabel Bigelow

  Emma Kate Starling
Ensemble   Misti Pryor
Joshua Irick
Jamie Brewster
Robert Curry
Steven Gillmore
Stephanie Gerst


Director   Jo Perryman
Stage Manager & Sound Operator   R. Lance Garrett
Set Design   Tom Harrington
Lighting Design   Steven Gillmore
Costume Design & Construction   Corey Martin
Scenic Artist   Sara Manuel
Set Construction   Tom Harrington
Melody Harrington
Light Board Operator   Bob Cross
Technical Assistant   Dustin Mars
Dialect & Diction Consultant   Rena Cook
Dramaturg   Jessica Garrett
Running Crew   Dana Bouknight
Asa Davis
Jennifer Harris
Jeremy Springer


Toms Formalwear Inc. - Cindy Bird - Morgan Brown - Vikki Simer - Bill Richey - Chickasha Hearing Center

Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Originally produced by the Old Globe Theatre in 1997, San Diego, CA.
Produced by Lincoln Center Theater in 1997-98, New York City.



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