81 Minutes premieres this week at NotaBle Acts

Category: stage 124

81 Minutes is a rip-roaring speculative historical dramedy inspired by one of the most fascinating unsolved art thefts in U.S. history.

NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival gets underway this week with this year’s MainStage production, 81 Minutes. Co-created by Alexa Higgins and Ian Goff for Falling Iguana Theatre Company, the play offers an interpretation of events surrounding the infamous heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum which resulted in the theft of several priceless works of art.

“We listened to a podcast about the theft and then Ian and I went to Boston to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum,” said Higgins. “We learned a ton about it and saw the empty frames on the wall. We became obsessed with the story so we decided to create a play that follows what might have happened during the 81 minutes the thieves were there.”

The play weaves between the events on the night of March 18, 1990 and the life of the museum’s founder and namesake to create a fictional story inspired by the museum’s rich history.

“I think the play was Alexa’s original seed of an idea,” said Goff. “Like she said, we went to Boston, we saw the museum and thought, we could write a show about this. This is very interesting. 81 minutes is a good length for a play.

“During the pandemic in Toronto we were bouncing around our apartment not being able to find the space or the energy to sit down and write. We knew the ideas and had talked about it but it was just so hard to find the motivation to write,” he said.

During a chance visit home to see family, Higgins and Goff made the time to commit to developing the script’s first draft.

“We spent two weeks and we wrote something like 75 pages, scene after scene after scene. And then it sat for about seven months until the NotaBle Acts mainstage possibility came together. That’s when we said, ‘OK. Let’s nail this thing down.’”

Now based in Toronto, Higgins and Goff once called Fredericton home. Veterans of Theatre UNB, Bard in the Barracks, Next Folding Theatre Company, Solo Chicken Productions’ the coop and of course NotaBle Acts, they have maintained connections with friends and creators in Fredericton and are excited to bring this new production to life with the festival that helped inspired their current work as theatre artists.

81 Minutes features a five-person cast that includes both Higgins and Goff along with Jean-Michel Cliche, Jilly Hanson and Neomi Iancu Haliva playing multiple roles.  

“We’re thrilled to be part of NotaBle Acts. We’ve both in a few Mainstages and different shows throughout the years and have a lot of love for the festival,” said Higgins.

81 Minutes runs at TNB’s Open Space Theatre July 22-26 with performances nightly at 7:30 p.m. Seating is limited. Tickets can be reserved by contacting dev.rockwell19@unb.ca.

For full show, schedule, and ticket details, visit www.nbacts.com or email nbacts@unb.ca.

Related: NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival celebrates 20 years

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