The Survivors/Los Sobrevivientes is based on the historically documented group of women, children and slave people who survived the battle of the Alamo. It’s an epic historical drama told by a diverse ensemble of people who didn’t make it into the history books. It’s an intimately drawn look at the surprising alliances necessary to survive the shifting and mercurial rule of Mexico’s fledgling democracy.
I wrote this play to put myself in larger, more diverse rooms where cultural exchange is central to the process and story. The Survivors/Los Sobrevivientes was very much inspired by the American Revolutions plays that came out of OSF, and I’d like to see it developed and produced in conversation with plays like Sweat, Indecent, and Liquid Plain; large historical plays that explore the people and cultural collisions we don’t read about in the history books.
A Manual for Escape
Part DIY seance–a sincere attempt to contact Houdini from the beyond, part exploration of the shared hunger between performer and audience for moments of the unknown– A Manual for Escape is one woman’s imperfect attempt to recreate Houdini’s last show.
In the fall of 2015, the director Natalie Novacek introduced me to the Houdini Archives at The Harry Ransom Center, and I became obsessed. Diving into his letters, I was struck by his desire to shape himself into something for an audience. I was a performer before coming to graduate school for playwriting, the Houdini archives resonated, a chord of my artistic life that had been in immediate commune with an audience. I began to write, working to create a piece that honored Houdini’s roots in vaudeville, while trying to imagine it for an audience of the now. This research and writing became the play One Night Only. While on retreat at Tofte Lake I read excerpts of the play alone, doing my best to bring all the characters to life. Somehow, though I’d pages in hand, though I fumbled lines and put on silly accents, the script worked. There was a kind of sincere suspension of disbelief that felt like a kind of magic. A few months ago I invited friends out to a rehearsal room and tried to perform the script it it’s entirety for them. I framed the experience as a seance, a sincere attempt to channel the spirit of Houdini. Suddenly the script made a kind of emotional sense it hadn’t before. This solo show, based on One Night Only, but built for me to perform is A Manual for Escape.
Houdini’s success was rooted in an audience hungry for the impossible, for moments when the harsh social boundaries of their lives could suddenly become malleable. They needed to see an underdog break out of his chains. Now too, we are hungry for experiences of the unknown. For moments of human empathy that let us test the boundaries of our increasingly electronically relegated and increasingly isolated communities. One Night Only is a nighttime diversion, a chance for people to sneak out of their day-to day, to escape to a room with other humans. To imagine new possibilities.
Based on my sisters, our struggles with addiction, our negotiations with growing up off the grid, and the way our anti-establishment parents shaped our disparate ambitions. The Fault is meant to place the audience squarely in the world of the kids, filled with magic, possibility and danger. This is magical realism meets Americana rugged individualism. This last round of revisions I’ve really let the sisters take over the play, let their hopes, frustrations and arguments play out through to the end. I’m not rewriting to change the past, just to try and understand where we all came from how we negotiated this inheritance.