Set in post-Apartheid South Africa, Just up the road, slightly is the portrait of a marriage depicted through the lens of personal tragedy and national narrative. Twenty years ago, Claire and Jan’s daughter, Antjie, was killed in a political attack on a pub just down the road from their home. In the years following, Claire meets Nkopane, who orchestrated the attack, and develops a relationship with him; she learns a great deal about Freedom and Forgiveness, and finally finds ways to heal. But what helps her hurts her husband, and takes a painful toll on their marriage.
Just up the road, slightly received developmental support from Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor and was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn.
Climate Change: An Opera
CLIMATE CHANGE: AN OPERA uses songs, fights, Friends and games to evoke the many ways a small drip can become a colossal crash.
It’s easy to place the planet’s changing climate in the future, to make it a frightening possibility we should probably attend to when we have a minute. But climate change is now: Record-breaking storms have become quotidian, “climate refugees” are a reality, and there’s an island of plastic off the coast of Japan. So how are we supposed to balance the day-to-day realities of being a human person in the world with the overwhelming reality of our planet’s changing climate (and our role in that change)? Well, through songs, snacks, games, and binge-watching tv, for starters….
Currently in development with the support of a BRIClab Residency.
Photos by Luisa Alarcon
I Am Here
I Am Here is a play about incarceration; about the brutal banality that is the United States Criminal Justice System, and what that system exposes in our society and ourselves. Generally speaking, the US criminal justice system is depicted in TV and movies through dramatic courtroom scenes, drug deals and gun fights. But what does it mean to stay in one place for so many years, isolated from the world that you’ve known and the people you love, deprived of so many human basics (eating food that is food, using the bathroom in private, etc.)? And what does it mean to have a loved one locked up? To do daily battle with the stigma and the everyday administrative, financial and emotional drama that come with having a loved one incarcerated? These are the questions I Am Here aims to ask. It is a product of personal experience: three months after I met him, my husband was arrested and indicted. Now he is a formerly incarcerated man on probation, with a felony conviction stamped permanently on him. This play began as an effort to channel our experiences into a constructive conversation. Its ultimate goal is to provide any and every audience with a platform for conversation about mass incarceration and the toll it takes on those it touches.
I Am Here has received developmental support from New Georges. An excerpt was presented at the #AmericanAF Festival at the New Ohio.
Stella Stein is a road trip play about Stella Stein and Sam, two Americans driving through South Africa’s Drakensberg mountains. There's Heidegger and herpes, Coke and post-colonialism, seeing versus being and (not) identifying as "American." In the end it's a play about perspective; wanting, searching for and finally finding it - in the most unlikely of places.
Stella Stein has received developmental support from New Georges and Clubbed Thumb. Excerpts of the play have been presented as part of the New Georges Jamboree and Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks.
Stella Stein was initially conceived in response to Gertrude Stein’s essay on Plays. In it she expresses an interest in plays being a series of portraits, essences and, most especially, landscapes. She is not particularly interested in story -
Myself, I am very much interested in story. But I am also interested in portraits and landscapes and what roles they can play in the composition of story and character. And I am preoccupied by the notion of Perspective, particularly in light of our current socio-political realities. The limitations of the Western view so many of us were born into and the implications of living only with that view are subjects I find myself returning to incessantly.
And so Stella Stein was born, and embodies a search I believe many of us are already on, in one form or another.
Country Western Musical
Zach is a lady, a cowboy, with a sad story to tell and a guitar to help tell it. She’s got a girl she calls Curls who’s not often nearby. Curls comes from a map far, far from Zach’s, but they do overlap (Curls’ and Zach’s maps) and “tango jes fine.” Zach calls her girl “Curls” cause her hair’s all gold coin. Curls calls Zach “Big Z” on account of her size - and the fact her name’s Zach.
This play is Zach’s story. She’s never “known much of knowin,” she’s always sort of just been – been enduring, been avoiding, been committing the odd petty sin. By the time she meets Curls, she’s been enduring and avoiding an awful long time, and she’s ready to settle, explore life with one girl. But something Terrible Happens, and Zach must now find a way to mold meaning, leave all the bullshit behind. She must craft from adversity a new sense of self, must lift anger’s skirt to find emotional wealth.
The Terrible Happening lands Zach in jail, where she meets a Navajo woman named Angie who sees all things, and well. We learn from Angie that Living and Believing, in the Navajo system, have circular structures broken down into fours: Four seasons, four winds, four foundation colors –
So this play’s a circle broken into five sections: Four major movements and one minor twang. (The twang’s in the middle and triggers a change in direction; it, a la Angie, points us back home.) The last scene is the first scene repeated, done with more Light in a different location (a new, improved ranch where Zach now lives with Curls). The many ways this Light manifests is a bit TBD – I just know that it’s bright, that it feels like the start of a happier story.
The circular structure corresponds to the seasons and breaks down like this: The first movement’s autumn, death that in time will fertilize life. The second’s the darkness of winter, all anger and fear. Then there’s the trigger, and a new way of living begins to appear. The third movement brings the soft promise of spring, and the fourth movement’s summer: life that’s been fertilized is set to begin.
Man for All Mankind
Tolstoy: A man who’d always intended to suffer. Not from some long-standing desire to test the resistance of his will – no. His Intention to Suffer was a despotic one – he intended that his teachings, his preachings, his reachings – all three be - Irresistible and make his message holy in the eyes of man, make himself holy in the eyes of – disgusted Oh but this does not discount the man of the man, the language, the lion, the Sounding Bell of All this World, as our man Gorky will explain – Come, let him explain (or at least like just portray) for us, this Man for All Mankind.
Produced at JACK as part of The Weasel Festival
The Part Where Peter Leaves
The Part Where Peter Leaves is set in JFK’s Terminal A - as well as various Elsewheres (war zones, bedrooms, a bar). Susan sits amidst a pile of airport debris (Styrofoam containers and crappy magazines), debating what which major life step to take. She tells us the story of Peter and Mattie, a journalist and medic, respectively, whose romance personifies the debate between the costs and contributions of the Western hand in other spaces.
John and Ness: A Study in Diffraction
John and Ness: A Study in Diffraction tells the story of a poet and a scientist (both professors at Berkeley) and their divorce and then reunion. Ness studies the ocean and experiences the world through that study’s lens. John is a poet, and struggles to be present outside his verse.