Only some people are aware of the major dispute between Great Britain and the United States over who had rightful ownership of the San Juan Islands, referred to as The Pig War. The mid-1800s conflict never actually resulted in physical combat, but was instead resolved diplomatically. It is quite likely that just a handful of people know that in the 1960s Emilia Bave created a play to commemorate the peaceful negotiation. Due to a lack of willing actors, she used just mannequins and her own narration. The play ran for almost 20 years.
Thankfully, writer Steve Lyons, has decided it is about time The Pig War, along with Mrs. Bave’s commitment to theater and history, be literally brought back to life, this time with real actors. Lyons will bring “Mrs. Bave Presents the Pig War” to the Firehouse Performing Arts Center September 8–10 and 15–17.
Lyons’ version of the story follows Mrs. Bave as she works to put on her play only to have her star actors (mannequins) come to life and complain about her script. While the story is undoubtedly full of humor, Lyons stressed his admiration for Mrs. Bave. Regardless of the fact that nobody on all of the San Juan Islands wanted to be in her play, she persisted. “As a playwright, this woman stuck with me. She was a pretty strong woman,” Lyons said.
In addition to honoring Mrs. Bave, Lyons said the story of The Pig War itself inspires him. Now, the San Juan Island National Historical Park stands as a reminder of the power of level-headed diplomacy, and sits right in our backyard, Lyons said. “It is a delightful and beautiful story about how to avoid a war,” Lyons said. What better way to learn an important lesson from history than with a bit of humor?