Ironically, you may not have heard of the Ubiquitous Theater company yet.
But you can get acquainted this weekend, when the company presents Emma Donoghue’s play “Kissing the Witch” at Ypsilanti’s Dreamland Theatre.
“I first did a production of the play fifteen years ago in Buffalo,” said UT’s founder and “Witch” director Margaret Smith, who previously worked as artistic director for Buffalo’s HAG Theatre before moving to Michigan. “I loved the play. Emma Donoghue took these fairy tales – mostly middle Europe fairy tales – and re-wrote them with feminist endings. So there’s no rescue by some guy on a white horse. … Instead, these women find new identities for each other and themselves.”
In “Witch,” Irish writer Donoghue – most famous for her bestselling novel “Room,” which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film – reimagines the familiar stories of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and Rumpelstilskin.
“What’s great is, with each one, you think you know where it’s going, but it’s not going there at all,” said Smith. And in this #metoo moment, the show’s production team is almost entirely made up of women.
Smith’s favorite of the lot is “The Tale of the Voice,” a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”
“She gives up her voice to get a man, and when she’s betrayed by the man, she goes back to the witch and wants her voice back,” said Smith. “But she learns that the witch never really had it. The woman had had it all along. It was always hers, and if she wishes to speak, she can speak. And that moves into the next tale, where the witch tells her own story. And these women telling their own stories is so important, because stories matter.”
This is only Ubiquitous’ second production; the first was an original show that was performed four times, in different parts of Michigan, and raised $50,000 for queer youth programs in Michigan.
And while the company’s previously performed in Ann Arbor’s B-Side and The Ark, this is their first show in Ypsilanti.
“We’re happy to be here,” said Smith. “There’s a great art scene in Ypsi, so we’ve been wanting to do a show here. We were happy we worked something out with Dreamland.”
And while many locals associate Dreamland with Naia Venturi’s puppets, “Kissing the Witch” only features human women.
“My actors are among the puppets while waiting to come on-stage,” said Smith. “They’re used to it now. But we’re a straight-up theater company.”
“Kissing the Witch” will play at Dreamland Theater, 26 N. Washington St. in Ypsilanti, on Thursday-Saturday, April 19-21, at 8 p.m. Tickets ($10 in advance, $12 at the door) are available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/3326898.