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New NoPassport Title by Caridad Svich

2013 Limited Edition Publication from Santa Catalina Editions/NoPassport:


by Caridad Svich

Four plays by OBIE-award-winning dramatist Caridad Svich that center on stories of the US' working poor. A tough-minded, lyrical quartet of dramas set in small towns in Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and the Florida Panhandle - this collection paints a stark, tender portrait of citizens looking for some kind of healing on this here earth. The plays in this limited edition volume are GUAPA, THE WAY OF WATER, SPARK and HIDE SKY. With an introduction by Zac Kline, and essays by Henry Godinez, Heather Helinsky and Caridad Svich.

paperback, print on demand: $18.00

6 X 9

Direct purchase link:

Santa Catalina Editions/NoPassport

Gun Control Action Program, January 26 2013

NoPassport Theatre Alliance & Press    force/collision   Theatre J    Twinbiz



Saturday January 26, 2013

Theatre J

Gonda Theatre, Georgetown University

Directed by force/collision



            The Wake by Caridad Svich

            Hello, My Name is Joe by Amina Henry

            Rand by Jennifer Maisel

            Gun Play by OIiver Mayer

            Cecily by Neil LaBute

            Happiness by Chiori Miyagawa

            Change by Elaine Avila

            See Dick and Jane Get Ready for School by Gary Winter

            Right After Virginia Tech  by Laura Zam

            Electric Midnight Emergency Call by Lynn Manning

            The Next Time by Cecilia Copeland

            What Are We Going to Do About Little Brother? by Zac Kline

            A Poem for Sandy Hook by August (Gus) Schulenberg 


Artists must react. Artists must react to the world around them to be fully engaged as artists and citizens. They must react to what they see in the world that inspires beauty, and also what troubles them, what makes them questions, what makes them want to effect change and makes them want to seek out a dialogue with others. The artist’s responsibility is not to answer questions, but surely to ask them. Today we are asking questions, today we are engaging in that dialogue. Gun control is a serious topic not only in this county, but around the world. NoPassport Theatre Alliance and Press (Caridad Svich, founder) in collaboration with Theatre J, force/collision and Twinbiz put out a call for new writing about gun control. We received over a hundred submissions from playwrights, poets and theatre-makers of all regard with vibrant and important reactions to the recent events in Newton, Auora and the continued conversation and debate about guns in America and across the globe.  The pieces you will hear today represent just a small fraction of the writing we wish we could share, but also represent a vibrant first step in the conversation.  The conversation about gun control must be had. It must be had in our capitols, in our schools, in our town squares, in our churches and mosques and synagogues, and in the lobby of our theatres. We ask you to watch the plays this afternoon and enjoy, but also ask you to engage with us in this crucial dialogue. Some pieces are calls to action, some are calls to question, some are prayers, but all are part of conversation that we must be having and have too long ignored.

                                                                                                                                Zac Kline

                                                                                                                                NoPassport Dramaturge


Frank Britton is a native Washingtonian, alumnus and faculty member of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and a two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee in the category of Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Play, and is currently appearing in The Minotaur (Rorschach Theatre). Recent appearances include Shape (DC World Premiere and NYC Premiere at La MaMa ETC--force/collision, Core Ensemble/founding member); Marathon '33 (The American Century Theater); The Bacchae, Les Justes (WSC Avant Bard--Acting Company Member--nearly a dozen productions, including the titular role in Richard III); and has also appeared in productions with many area theatres including Arena Stage, Round House Theatre, Synetic Theater, Theater Alliance, SCENA Theatre, Constellation Theatre Co., Forum Theatre, Spooky Action Theater, and regionally with the Virginia Shakespeare Festival and Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. Many, many thanks to Caridad and all involved.

Sarah Elizabeth Ewing, a force/collision member, has trained in Washington DC and Los Angeles. Through her work with force/collision and The Rude Guerrilla Theater Company (Orange County, CA) she has been fortunate to perform in the world and US premiers of The Nautical Yards (Ensemble), The Sacred Geometry of S&M Porn (Margaret), and San Diego (Amy). Regional credits include: NYC: Shape (Ensemble); LA/OC: HAMLETMACHINE (Hanged Woman), The Municipal Abattoir (The Girl), The Gift (Janie), Bus Stop (Elma), and A Lie of the Mind (Sally).

Dexter Hamlett, in 2012 appeared in Eric Ehn's, Shape, produced by Force Collision at La Mamma ECT. As well as Factory 449.s The Ice Child, an urban horror, and a fortunate trip to London to work for the first time in 30 years with Isolte Avila and David Bower in, Signdance Collective's, New Gold.  He began the year working on the Heritage O’Neill, Moon for the Misbegotten as Phil Hogan. The body of his work on the west coast, he studied theater at Cal Arts and is truly mad.

Mark Krawczyk is an actor, a teacher, and an advocate for gun control. You can learn more about him at

Jocelyn Kuritzky has performed in and/or developed shows with 13P, PS 122, The Chocolate Factory, Clubbed Thumb, Dixon Place, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Greenpoint Division, HERE Arts Center, La MaMa E.T.C., the Lark Play Development Center, Les Freres Corbusier, Little Theatre, MCC Theater, the Museum of Modern Art, New Dramatists, New Georges, The New Group, New York Stage and Film, New York Theatre Workshop, Page 22, Primary Stages, The Public, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Red Bull Theater, Shelby Company, Soho Rep., SPACE on Ryder Farm, Target Margin, & Working Theater. She also performs regularly with her critically acclaimed theater company, Woodshed Collective, where she is a core member and the actor in residence. Her film credits include Peace After Marriage, opposite Louise Lasser, and The Girl Next Door. She has assisted directors Trip Cullman, Kip Fagan, Carl Forsman, Will Frears, Victor Maog, Ian Morgan, John Gould Rubin, & Michael Sexton, as well as collaborated with musician Duncan Sheik.

John Moletress is founding director of force/ collision. OFF-OFF BROADWAY: La MaMa ETC: Shape. REGIONAL: Stages Repertory Theatre: Mistakes Were Made; Steel River Playhouse: Pippin; The Crucible. DC AREA: The Nautical Yards, Magnificent Waste (World Premiere), The Saint Plays, Airswimming, 4.48 Psychosis (Capital Fringe Festival Award winner), What A Stranger May Know, Collapsing Silence, Foreign Tongue (World Premiere). OTHER: Founding Director, force/collision; Co-Founder of Helen Hayes Awards' John Aniello Award winning Factory 449; Kennedy Center/American College Theatre. Festival educator/respondent; 2012 Mayor's Arts Award finalist;

Karin Rosnizeck is a founding member force/ collision and performed in SHAPE and The Nautical Yards. Other roles: Magdalena Sanger (Marathon ’33), Nanni (The Ice Child with Factory 449), Mrs. Winsley/ Nurse in Stop Kiss, title role in The Gnädiges Fräulein, Countess Geschwitz in Lulu, Camille Claudel in The Sculptress.  She will next appear in the silliest play ever written - The Little Theatre of the Green Goose -with Ambassador Theater.  Karin has also worked as dialect coach and script consultant for German plays (Studio Theater, Theater J) and translated Cold Country by Swiss playwright Reto Finger for Zeitgeist. She holds an M.A. in English and French literature and believes in soft power.

Sue Jin Song is a founding member of force/collision. She has numerous film, television, and theatrical credits (locally and regionally). She received her MFA in acting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Sue Jin is gratified to be taking part in this evening's readings. It's nights like this that made her want to be an artist. She hopes this night brings healing, provokes thought, strengthens community, and inspires action. These deaths will not be in vain.

Howard Wahlberg is a former Director of Marketing for Arena Stage. Selected previous credits: No Rules Theatre Company’s Stop Kiss, directed by Holly Twyford, and Suicide, Incorporated; The Gaming Table (u/s, Folger Theatre), Time Stands Still (u/s Studio Theatre), Cry for the Gods, (Capital Fringe Festival). Howard studied the Meisner technique with Kathryn Gately at Mason Gross School of the Arts, as well as improvisation, pantomime, and clowning with Tanya Belov, Ronlin Foreman, Steve Smith, Glen “Frosty” Little, and Lou Jacobs at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College.

Laura Zam Laura Zam is a writer/performer specializing in one-person plays. Venues: The Public Theater, EST, Woolly Mammoth, and others nationally and internationally. Her newest play Married Sex was recently commissioned by Theater J. Awards include Tennessee Williams Fellowship, Soros Foundation grant, and Artist Fellowship (DCCAH). Laura has published in Time Out, Velvet Magazine, and Monologues for Women, by Women II, among others. She’s also worked with trauma survivors all over the world, including teens from the Middle East and wounded veterans. She has an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Brown University.

Rachel Zampelli is an actress based in Washington, DC. Her most recent work includes Dying City (Signature Theatre) and Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (The Studio Theatre 2ndStage). Rachel received her BA in Theater at Santa Clara University. She is looking forward to finishing up this season at Signature Theatre playing Meg in Beth Henley's Crimes of the Heart, directed by Aaron Posner and Marta in Stephen Sondheim's Company, directed by Eric Schaeffer.


Ari Roth, Theatre J staff, Georgetown University, Dr. Derek Goldman, Dept. of Theater and Performance Studies, Toby Clark,  Associate Director of Programs,  Dept. of Theater and Performance Studies, Dept. of Theater and Performance studies staff,  Molly Smith, Suzanne Blue Star Boy, Tony Adams and all the wonderful authors who contributed pieces to Gun Control Theatre Action.


Please give a listen to another artist’s response to the tragedy in Newton, ABC’s in Heaven by Carla Gordon and Wayne Richard



NoPassport invites dramatists, storytellers and poets to send work in the 3-7 minute range and take part in a Theatre Action for weekend of January 26-28, 2013 (to coincide with the March on Washington for Gun Control). The pieces must be sent by January 15, 2013 to and able to be read/performed script in hand, no frills.

In DC: Theater J in D.C. has offered to collaborate with NoPassport and host an after-show event at 5 PM on January 26, 2013 after their performance of Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People at Georgetown University's Gonda Theatre where writers, actors and storytellers can read from their work.

On the national level: NoPassport invites practitioners and theatre venues (professional, academic or otherwise) to join us in this theatre action. Please let us know if you wish to take part and collaborate with us in some way.

On the global level: NoPassport recognizes all too well that gun control is not merely a US issue, but affects all of us. If your local company wishes to join us in this action, do let us know.

Basic information about this theatre action for January 2013 will be live on by 5 January 2013.

Please feel free to forward this call to your colleagues.

Reflection on Spark at Ohio State University


Ohio State University Dept of Theatre, Columbus, OH

November 26, 2012

Directed by Karen Mozingo

                                                  By Karen Mozingo

My honors Introduction to Theatre students stared back at me in silence, as if I had proposed a trip to the moon. Mostly non-actors, I could feel their anxiety rising. A staged reading. An entire play. In public!? Caridad Svich’s announcement of the reading scheme for SPARK had reached my inbox at the beginning of our semester studying plays on human rights by contemporary women playwrights. The course included a section of plays focusing on war, so SPARK seemed a natural fit and an opportunity for direct experience with a new play. “Okay, let’s read through it in class and see how you feel about it after our reading,” I suggested. As students shifted in and out of the reading chairs every few scenes, some began to show an ease with their roles, and SPARK took shape before us all. By the end of the second week of classes, six students had volunteered to perform the staged reading and our real work began.

          Our rehearsals with SPARK were lessons in integration. As the Glimord sisters attempted to weave the fabric of their family back together after Lexie’s return from war, my students attempted to integrate the difficult aspects of their roles. Sarah and Angela struggled with Evelyn and Ali’s cursing, which was so different from their own patterns of behavior and speech; Omeed searched for a way to endure the long, present silence of Vaughn, as he waited for his moment to enter the reading; Cody eased into the part of Hector, yet remained ever-watchful of the tension between the sisters; Paul found his rhythm in reading the steady background of stage directions, creating the images hovering over our readings. Throughout the semester, Jessica, reading the role of Lexie, knitted a scarf, a hat, and mittens . . . through her knitting she created emotional space for herself and reminded us of the slow process of healing, of knitting a life back together stitch by stitch. She worked to connect with Lexie’s military chants, singing them tentatively, then with more anger as we progressed. Sarah found melodies for Evelyn’s singing, her humming offered as a prayer, or a gentle faith in the unseen workings of a family healing from multiple generations’ experiences with war and military service.

          Our encounter with SPARK was anything but explosive. It smoldered, simmered in a frustrating silence, erupted in brief moments of anger, much like Lexie’s moods as she found her way back to her life. The night of our reading, we set a table of food for our audience, welcoming them into the theatre as Evelyn welcomed Lexie to the family table. The students read with courage, and audience members responded with grateful comments and personal stories of family members and friends currently being deployed and separated from their families during the holidays. We sat with the discomfort, the small ruptures in understanding, the fear constricting the voices of retelling. And we were reminded that the work of SPARK was a subtle opening . . . a welcoming to the table and sitting with the silent, painful parts of our family and country’s social life, which we would rather cover up with the normalcy of casseroles, familiar banter, and forced embraces. To sit and witness the smoldering, to breathe life into the sparks of anger and outrage, and to create space for healing . . . such is the work of Caridad Svich’s new play.

Karen Mozingo's research interests include performance studies, dance theatre, and feminist theory. She has received both national and international support, including fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, German Historical Institute, and The Ohio State University. She has presented her research at annual conferences of Congress on Research in Dance, Society of Dance History Scholars, National Dance Educators Organization, and International Council Kinetography Laban/Labanotation, and her articles have been published in Dance Research Journal and the Journal of Dance Education. During the past ten years, she has taught performance studies, theatre, and dance courses at SUNY Potsdam, The Ohio State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Case Western Reserve University, and Stivers School for the Arts. 

Reflection on Spark in London (#2)

Signdance Collective International and Middlesex University, London, UK

Directed by Pedro de Senna

Performed part spoken/part in British Sign Language

November 23, 2012

                                   by Pedro de Senna

For the actors of SignDance Collective International, it was a challenge: reading Spark, with its American idioms and specificities, whilst signing in British Sign Language (BSL) involved a simultaneous, double process of interpretation. Caridad Svich’s writing is so grounded in a lexical reality (her ear is so close to the ground), that a transposition from a localised American hearing culture to British Deaf culture – or rather, the superimposition of the two – was nearly impossible.


The small audience of Theatre Arts students at Middlesex University (all non-signers) were impressed. The fluency, beauty and sheer expressivity of the Sign Language lent the characters a gestural poesy – even at a “reading” – that heightened the text’s earthy naturalism. Isolte Ávila’s interpretation revealed an underlying sensuality in Evelyn’s pathos; she constantly signed, in a tour-de-force that left her exhausted physically and mentally. Laura Goulden (Lexie) and Francesca Osimani (Ali) completed the trio of sisters, whose signing punctuated and strengthened their characters’ already forceful temperaments. David K. Bower gave Hector a softness in his signing, charming the audience with his warmth. Sign Language happens in space, and is inherently performative. If David Mamet once claimed that “there is no character, there are just lines on the page”, here the lines acquire their own physicality, they are embodied in their very utterance. In contrast, my own reading of Vaughn, the most other-worldly of the characters in the play, was subdued.

I can’t sign.

In a sense, this dichotomy served the purposes of the play and highlighted Vaughn’s difference, in a kind of via negativa. His dis-embodiment was more acutely present. This was the paradox of the reading: that the character who is furthest from the ground was given the least heightened of performances. Or, to put it from another angle: that the heightening provided by BSL somehow anchored the signing characters to the world of the play.

This was made possible because of the nature of Sign Language, but also because of the quality in the writing itself. Even in their most naturalistic, Caridad Svich’s plays never lose sight of the super-natural, and the author finds poetry in the most mundane of details, like the cigarette butt that is dropped and then picked up again by someone else. Or the strike of lightning that is also a spark of love in a car dealership.


When asked, after the reading, what they thought the play was about, an audience member said: “It’s about conflict in all its forms.” Conflict, expressed in these binomials through which the writer so aptly navigates: natural and super-natural, personal and political, male and female, the dead and the living, army cadences and church-hymns, fighting and flirting. And all of which were given life in the beautiful gaps between speaking and signing.

Pedro de Senna is a theatre practitioner and academic. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, where he started performing in 1993, and he has been a member of SignDance Collective since 2010. He is a lecturer in Contemporary Theatre Theory and Practice at Middlesex University.


Reflection on Spark at Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University Dept of Theatre, Fort Myers, FL

November 26, 2012

Directed by Armando Rivera 

                                                     by Dr. Michelle Hayford

FGCU’s TheatreLab hosted a staged reading of Caridad Svich’s SPARK on November 26, 2012.  This event brought together two student organizations that had not worked together previously: Eagle Theatre and Students Who Served. Also present were community members who were drawn to our theatre for the first time due to their interest in veterans’ issues or because they themselves were veterans.  The student actors felt a significant responsibility to do the script and the characters justice as they were representing experiences that veterans in the audience could relate to first-hand. 

Theatre major Armando Rivera directed the staged reading of SPARK, injecting startling staging to highlight moments of connection and violence.  Student actors were Rachel Bennett (Evelyn), Jackie DeGraaff (Lexie), Hanny Zuniga (Ali), Adrian Serrano (Hector), Jake Scott-Hodes (Vaughn), and Clare Edlund (reader).  Rachel Bennett (Evelyn) appreciated Svich’s “fresh take on the language of the south,” while Jackie DeGraaff (Lexie) thought it was “interesting to find similarities in my life to a veteran’s life.”  Michael Bridges, an FGCU theatre major in audience was inspired by the event, saying “this play was a great example of how theatre can bring people together on social issues.”  Armando Rivera was able to illuminate the beauty of the language and the subtle intimacies between the characters of SPARK, making bold choices that served the play well.  The unfolding romance between “Evelyn” and “Hector” was a joyful release and Jake Scott-Hodes’s interpretation of “Vaughn” was haunting for its deity-like rousing delivery of the “spectre’s” monologue.

The post-performance panel discussion featured five panelists, four of whom were veterans (2 men and 2 women) and Dr. Christine Wright-Isak, the faculty advisor of the Students Who Served organization for student veterans.  Two of the veterans were FGCU students, one was an FGCU staff member and another was a community member who works for the Red Cross’s Service to Armed Forces.  I developed the panel discussion questions with my colleague Brandon Kliewer, whose expertise in civic engagement theory contributed to the success of the panel discussion.  The panel began by reflecting on “Lexie’s” welcome-back dinner failure and the difficulty of coming home, after which each veteran was asked what kind of support they needed when returning from war.  The questions continually used SPARK as the jumping off point for discussion and context to data we provided regarding the economics of recruitment, poverty, mental health, and gender roles in the military. 

Happily, the panel discussion lasted the same length of time as the play itself, and audience, panelists and actors lingered even after the panel was over to make personal introductions and share stories more intimately.  I knew the night was a success when at 11:30pm, as I walked to the parking lot with Dr. Wright-Isak, she shared with me that the young woman veteran who had served in Afghanistan had in no small way been opened up and heard that night.  It is clear that the theatre had been host to a collective journey that evening, as audience members who knew little of veterans’ experiences at the start of the performance walked away enlightened by the panelists’ sharing of how best the community can support them.  Most importantly, the student veterans let the other students in audience know how to interact with veterans in their classes and on campus, revealing vulnerabilities that many had overlooked.  And I was moved by a veteran seated next to me throughout the play and in the front row during the panel who eagerly nodded his head as the characters’ experiences and panelists’ comments resonated with him.  He was one of the last to leave the theatre that night. 

I thank Caridad Svich and No Passport theatre alliance for sharing this compelling new play with communities to honor veterans locally and allow for the theatre to function as the democratic space it is in a vital and moving way.  The actors’ faithful portrayal of SPARK’s characters “set the stage” for the panelists’ open hearts and willingness to share—it was a beautiful event that benefitted all in attendance and will have a further reach as those of us who were there share what we learned.

Michelle Hayford is the Theatre Program Leader and Assistant Professor of Theatre in FGCU’s Department of Theatre and Visual Arts. She primarily teaches performance theory courses using performance as a methodology. Professor Hayford’s research interests include applied theatre, ethnodrama, performativity in everyday life and identity, gender, and embodied ways of knowing. Professor Hayford is committed to interdisciplinary inquiry and bringing theory into practice through performance. Dr. Hayford directs the Performance Constellation series of original ensemble productions based on interview narratives. The Constellation ethnodramas combine her passions of creating live plays with utilizing the craft of theatre as a necessary response to community and civic engagement.



Spark at UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara

November 12, 2012

Produced and Dramaturged by Jacqueline Viskup

Directed by Kellyn Johnson

                                                     by Jacqueline Viskup

Post-staged reading I find myself reflecting on the way Spark deals with the notion of liminality.  Liminality, to reference Victor Turner, is the space “betwixt and between.”  First of all, Lexie as a female soldier occupies a space betwixt and between traditional gendered roles.  Lexie also occupies a liminal space as a veteran of war.  She cannot pass back through time to her life before the military, nor can she move into the next phase of her life.  She has no job, no prospects, even her senses fail her.  The community at large knows not what to do with her. So she waits, not necessarily passively, in this liminal state.

In the talkback to our reading I asked the audience: what is the impact of seeing a female gendered body in Lexie’s more aggressive scenes?  Many audience members replied that her gender did not matter, that she was read as a veteran of war.  A fellow graduate student pointed out the problem that Lexie’s gender is always both there and not there.  Lexie must move between the machine-like body of the aggressive soldier (read: male) and the ever-present otherness of her female gendered body (as we see in the constant circulation of news coverage of gender inequality and sexual assault in the military).  In rites of passage, liminality is an often ambiguous or even invisible state.  Scene two, when Lexie boxes with the night sky, is the most poignant expression of the violence of the liminal space.  Here Lexie wrestles with her demons, but also, as an aggressive female enacting intense militaristic violence to her own body, forces audiences to confront ambiguity head on.

Perhaps Lexie’s liminality also serves as a key to how Spark can help cultivate dialogue about our current wars and the real harm it does to bodies here in the U.S.  Liminality, as part of a rite of passage, is a stage one must pass through in order to achieve the desired result of the ritual.  Spark is rife with ritual, whether song, cadence, reading twigs, fighting, or even gathering together at the table.  Theatre is a ritual; we come together, go through a journey, and come out altered in some way.  And rehabilitation, for an individual, a community, and a nation needs some sort of ritual to carry us through the process.  But, like the internal and external wounds that mark a soldier, we must remember that to rehabilitate is to learn to move with the wound.  Lexie regains her hunger, but this does not alleviate her struggle. Another audience member, a member of the US military, noted that in the process of reintegration, the soldier and their family must accept that life will never be the same; families must learn new ways of relating to each other.  In the same vein America needs to recognize and accept that these wars are still part of our national identity, and must not be ignored, however painful, as part of the rehabilitation process. 

Jacqueline Viskup is a PhD student in the Department of Theater & Dance at U.C. Santa Barbara.  Her academic research interrogates how the image of the female soldier can be read semiotically and politically in 21st century performances about women in the U.S. military.  Jacqueline teaches acting, theatre history, and social action theatre.  She also directs and dramaturges.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Drew University, and a Master of Arts in Theatre from University of Oregon.

Reflection on Spark in Nacogdoches, TX

Stephen F. Austin State University Dept. of Theatre, Nacogdoches, TX

November 26, 2012

Directed by  Jason Davids Scott

                                               by Jason Davids Scott 

What appealed to you about the SPARK reading scheme? Why did you join in?

The purposes were both practical and personal.  On a practical level, our school has made a commitment to get involved in more production activity outside of our mainstage season and student-directed plays.  A relatively low-impact event like a play reading is perfect for that mandate – especially when it allows us the opportunity to share the work of a well-known playwright and feature a new play.  Feeling “connected” to all of the other schools and companies producing the play this month was a very nice bonus.

On a more personal level, I share Caridad’s concern about the way our nation understands and discusses veteran’s issues.  My stepfather was a Vietnam veteran and former POW:  he committed suicide in our home in 2008, and my final, desperate conversation with him included many references to the nearly four decades of PTSD he suffered as a result of his ordeal (not so much as a victim of violence, but as one who killed “enemy” civilians).  Recovering from the trauma of his suicide is an ongoing issue for me and my mother (who is a social worker and psychologist), so this was some way to bring that very personal issue to the forefront and connect me to the material.

Tell us about your reading – the key players, your space, anything you think will give people an idea about what you’re doing. 

We performed the play in our “Downstage” theatre, our “black box” space, to an audience of about 30.  A thunderstorm warning (and the remnants of the Thanksgiving Holiday) may have kept our numbers down, but several professors from our department came, as well as many interested students.  One of the advantages of our production was that we got to enlist the talent of our new professor of acting, Laura Rikard, a South Carolina native who instantly connected to the character of Evelyn (“She’s my sister,” says Laura), and was able to coach the rest of our cast on accents.  We also are blessed at this school to have actor Brad Maule (who was on “General Hospital” for several years) as an instructor, and he had the perfect voice and persona for the character of Vaughn.  This allowed four students (one reading the narration) the opportunity to work closely with two established professionals. 

Our production was very low-key; we had simple lighting changes between the scenes.  Until the scene with Vaughn, the four main characters (the sisters and Hector) all sat on stage reading from the script on music stands; during scene two, Ingunn Kristjansdottir (an Icelandic native on exchange through a drama program in England, who was cast as Lexie) got up and acted out the shadowboxing.  For scene seven, the three actors besides Ingunn retreated to the background and Brad Maule came forward for the Lexie-Vaughn scene.  In scene 8, the two sisters returned to the lighted space as Brad retreated.

What themes or aspect of SPARK most excite you or connect with the work that you do?

As mentioned, it is always thrilling to present new work.  Our school hosts a Festival of New American Plays every other Spring (the next will be Spring 2014), curated by playwright-in-residence Jack Heifner, who has previously debuted works-in-progress by writers such as John Cariani, Constance Congdon, Barbara Lebow, David Ives, and others.  While the time frame for SPARK was out of synch with that festival, it was nice to be able to “cash in” a bit on that culture.  More than one audience member came to me and said how “special” they felt to be hearing a completely new work right here in small town East Texas.

But as mentioned, on a personal level, I connect deeply to the themes of how returning soldiers process their lives in service once they are at home.  The scene between Vaughn and Lexie rings so true for me, particularly Vaughn’s mention of “dead babies” and the litany of “relations” he has left in battle sites all over the world.  His final speech, explaining his prayer to the gods for the strength to keep living, hits particularly hard:  that prayer is one I know that my stepfather made hundreds if not thousands of times, until the day when finally the gods didn’t answer him.  I witnessed the final hour of his life up close, pleading with him to reconsider, and Vaughn’s words echo the intensity and desperation of John’s final moments.  I made that same prayer, sadly to no avail, which makes it even more important that I was able to help  (in this very small way) remind a few people in our community about how important it is to hear that prayer.

At the conclusion of the reading, I reminded the audience of a line from Saul Bellow’s “Seize the Day,” drawn from a very different context, but relevant.  At a moment where the conversation between two people drops off, the narrator remarks about all of the secrets that the two men knew about each other but could not say.  “None of this could be mentioned, and the great weight of the unspoken left them with little to talk about.”  The weight of the unspoken in SPARK – the sisters’ avoidance of discussing any details, Vaughn’s admonition to “never give the full run-down,” the discussion about hiding away the memories, the ways in which unseen characters like Barry ignore the war and its implications – is what gives the play its life and meaning.  I hope that I would have been able to recognize it even if I had not necessarily lived it with my stepfather, but having been there next to someone who is being crushed by the weight of the unspoken, I can testify to its terrible power.

The SPARK scheme is a community building (in a worldwide sense) set of readings. What is one place, organization or person in your city or town that supports your theatre work? And what makes that place, organization or person special? This could be a bar or restaurant that supports your theatre patrons, a local community group that supports your work or a volunteer who is invaluable to your organization.

We get okay local support but this is not a theatre town.  We are fortunate to have a Dean (A.C. “Buddy” Himes) who is supportive of theatre in general, and good relationships with our provost (Richard Barry, who has appeared as an actor in some of our productions) and other departments in the University.  Our local Ford dealership (Tipton Ford) helps sponsor some of our events, but by and large we are here to serve our student community (including about 140 undergraduate majors and 20 minors in theatre). 

What’s next for your company this season?

The week after SPARK went up was busy for me, as I directed (and helped the students write) an original Christmas show for the local holiday festival.  Next semester, our mainstage shows as “Stage Door” (which will be directed by Jack Heifner) and Charles Mee’s “bobrauschenbergamerica” (which I will direct).  We are also scheduled to put on 9 or 10 student-directed shows; another show from the Fredonia Players (which produces original work by students, the same group that did the Xmas show); and possibly a show featuring faculty talent.  We like to keep busy. 

Jason Davids Scott is an assistant professor in the School of Theatre at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he teaches courses in film history, play analysis, and acting.  He received his BFA in Cinema Studies from New York University and his MA and Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of California Santa Barbara.  His scholarly work includes reviews in the Journal of Popular Culture and contributions to the Mid-Atlantic Almanack, and he has written several entries for the upcoming Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting.  His directing credits include “Steel Magnolias” and “bobrauschenbergamerica” at Stephen F. Austin State University, and several original productions with the UCSB New Plays Festival and the SFA comedy/variety troupe the (New) Original Cast.  He is past president of the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association, where he has served as an area chair and on the executive board for six years.

Reflection on Spark in Portland

Profile Theatre, Portland, OR

November 14, 2012

Directed by RaChelle Schmidt

                                  by Andrea Stolowitz

I attended a reading of SPARK at Profile Theater in Portland, OR on Nov. 14th. I am a playwright have long been a fan of Caridad's work and Profile Theater so I was very excited to be able to attend. The play was moving on so many levels: The relationship between the sisters, the sense of place, the sense of longing for the past and a better future, and the pain of the war and being a soldier  transposed through the generations. The specificity of the characters and time and place led to such a wonderful universality of theme. The rhythm and language became part of the theatrical landscape and I found myself following the cadences of language as a layer of the story. The use of songs, music, and  army chants added another fabric to the play. The play leads the viewer into a conversation about war and economic disparity with a gentle light touch so that we can not shy away from the truths that it presents.

Andrea Stolowitz is a playwright living in Portland Oregon. Her plays have been produced nationally and internationally.  The LA Times calls her work “heartbreaking” and the Orange County Register characterizes her approach as a “brave refusal to sugarcoat ... issues and tough decisions.” A recipient of Artists Repertory Theater’s $25,000 New Play Commission, Andrea will premiere her newest work ITHAKA at the theatre in June 2013. Her play ANTARKTIKOS was workshopped nationwide in 2011 at the New Harmony Project (IN), Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, and at Seattle Repertory Theater. Pittsburgh Playhouse mounts the world premiere in 2013.