Gathering Blue

By Eric Coble, adapted from the book by Lois Lowry
Directed by Rosalyn Erat Benson

Seven local middle and elementary school young people join a cast of seventeen Miami students to present this compelling story of how art and courage have the power to change the future.


November 15–16, 7:30 pm
School Matinee November 17, 10:30 am
November 18–19, 2:00 pm
Gates-Abegglen Theatre

Tickets: $12 Adult, $9 Senior, $8 Student
Group discounts of 4 or more available for $5 per ticket

In an apocalyptic future where children are kept like animals and human life is cheap, young Kira learns the ugly truth about the powers controlling her world. A gifted weaver, her talent catches the attention of the Council of Guardians. Under their custody, Kira is made to mend and embellish the ceremonial Singer's Robe—a garment that tells the history of the world. But the longer she works, the more she learns about the horrifying secrets that keep her community hostage. Can she use her knowledge and art to reshape the future? Based on Lois Lowry's companion piece to The Giver, Gathering Blue tells a suspenseful tale of the power of creativity to fight brutality (via Dramatic Publishing).

Five out of five stars … An enchanting and empowering story that shows the power of art and the importance of thinking for yourself.” —PDX Kids Calendar

Themes

Note: The following resources come from LitCharts, and reference the book, by Lois Lowry, from which the play is based.

Art and Creative Instinct

Gathering Blue is set in a town that, long after a worldwide catastrophe called the Ruin, is primarily characterized by the struggle to survive. It is a world without art, a world in which the villagers see art as lacking any practical purpose, and therefore as being useless.
(https://www.litcharts.com/lit/gathering-blue/themes/art-and-creative-instinct)

Self-Interest versus Compassion

The people of the town in which Kira lives are marked by their anger, greed, and profound self-interest. Kira freely admits that she’s kind and nurturing because she was born with a lame leg—if she’d been born healthy, she’d be no kinder than the other villagers.
(https://www.litcharts.com/lit/gathering-blue/themes/self-interest-versus-compassion)

Power and Freedom

It’s clear from early on in Gathering Blue that the Council of Guardians wields a huge amount of power over the village. It presides over all trials, hosts the annual Gathering, and can expel anyone in the village at any time. What’s unclear, at least until the end of the novel, is the source of the Council’s great power. At any time, it would seem, the villagers could rise up and overthrow the Council—in fact, this seems like exactly the kind of wild, violent gesture the villagers specialize in.

Nevertheless, it’s possible to achieve freedom simply by recognizing the source of power. At the end of the novel, Kira understands how the Council uses the Ruin Song and her robe to control the village. Yet she doesn’t leave the village with her father; instead, she stays behind to alter the robe’s message.
(https://www.litcharts.com/lit/gathering-blue/themes/power-and-freedom)

Pain and Maturity

It’s been noted that the characters in Lowry’s children’s books endure an unusual amount of pain and suffering. Gathering Blue is no exception: that Kira loses her mother isn’t so remarkable (there are plenty of protagonists of children’s books who are orphans, after all), but she has to drag her mother to a field and watch her corpse for four gruesome days. It’s fair to say that Lowry seeks to explore the impact of pain: what people do with it, how they respond to it, and how they learn from it.

Transforming pain into experience is an almost artistic process: it requires Kira to see beauty and value in ugly things, thereby shaping them into something beautiful and valuable. Although Kira’s ability to transform pain into experience is closely tied to her abilities as an artist, Lowry makes a much more general point: maturation is only possible with pain. Thus, children become adults by experiencing pain and learning how to deal with it.
(https://www.litcharts.com/lit/gathering-blue/themes/pain-and-maturity)

Men, Women, and Gender Roles

At many points, Kira notes that her society is strictly divided along gender lines. Women can only perform certain jobs and go certain places. Many of them work by gathering food for the village, and others spend their time weaving. Men, on the other hand, hunt for food for the village. On the day of a hunt, they brag and argue and fight with each other. This isn’t a case of “separate but equal”; clearly the men have more power and freedom than the women of the village. We can see this when Vandara and Kira go to court before the Council of Guardians. There seem to be no women on the Council (whereas there are at least three men on it, including the chief guardian), and Vandara learns from the chief guardian that she has no rights, presumably because she’s a woman. It’s also mentioned many times that women aren’t allowed to learn how to read.

In the village of Gathering Blue, men are arrogant, violent, and controlling, while women are weaker and less educated. With education and art, this unfair, arbitrary arrangement can be changed.
(https://www.litcharts.com/lit/gathering-blue/themes/men-women-and-gender-roles)