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MOXIE Productions, Burlington, VT

November 4, 2012 

Directed by Monica Callan 

      by Emily George Lyons

For our reading of Spark by Caridad Svich on November 4th in Burlington, VT, two female veterans, one military wife, and a Vietnam veteran were in the audience. The two female vets spoke for a Q&A after the play. Both of them remarked how Spark was spot-on in its honest portrayal of the struggle of a soldier to fit back into society and the family's to understand this new person coming home. One of the female vets said “it was uncanny” how the desciptions and imagery used by Svich, correlated to her experience of flying over Iraq - thinking there were trees looming in the distance and realizing they were giant flames of fire. She went on to say how the opening scene - where the older sister, Evelyn, is insisting on a homecoming party for the younger sister, Lexie, who has just come back from Iraq - made her squirm with its believable portrayal. The Vietnam veteran in the audience had to catch himslef for a minute before he was able to speak over his emotions. This brought to light one of the beautiful things about Svich's play. That, although it is about 3 sisters, it hits home with male veterans and family members as well. It is universal in its themes yet grounded in gritty reality. The military wife chimed in to say that she could see herself in those moments with Evelyn and Lexie. Even though it was two sisters, it was still a similar experience with she and her husband - wondering when he was going to "get back to normal" not yet realizing that this was the new normal. For myself, being able to read Evelyn in such an environment was one of the most rewarding theatrical experiences of my life. After hearing the dsicussion it had sparked and the emotions it had provoked, I knew we had touched them to a profound extent. Spark gives veterans and their families a voice, it lets them know they are not alone, and creates a profoundly healing environment. It was an honor to be a part of it.

Emily George Lyons is an film and theatre actor and voiceover artist 


Reflection on Spark at University of Washington


   University of Washington-Seattle Dept. of Theatre in collaboration with The Hansberry Project

   November 7, 2012 

   Directed by Val Curtis Newton 

         By Shaunyce Omar


I had the pleasure of participating in the reading of SPARK in honor of Veteran's Day.  The play is written by Caridad Svich and was directed by Valerie Curtis Newton.   SPARK is a drama set in small town U.S.A.  It follows the lives of 3 sisters as they try to reunite the family after one has served in the recent war.   As well as, magnifying the issues soldiers face upon returning to civilian life.  I played the eldest sister Evelyn, who tries to create a "perfect" place/home for her soldier sister to return to.  As I reflect on my experience playing Evelyn.  I am reminded of so many women who try to hold their families together by squeezing as tight as they can, only to suffocate them and themselves.  SPARK captures her insecurities, fears and pain, while showing us how it has manifested into a "nit picking" anger.  Evelyn almost can't help herself.  If something is not quite perfect, she must attempt to make the adjustment.  I loved playing her because between her rants she has a few vulnerable moments.  It is then we see her true love for her family.  

Kudos to the playwright for creating not only entertaining theatre, but intelligent work that focuses on the difficult homecoming for our soldiers. Also I had a wonderful ensemble to work with and director to lead me, who I believe caught the vision of the script and helped us find it as well! 

A Native of Seattle, Shaunyce holds a B.A degree in Theatre from Southern University.  Some of her credits include Hattie McDaniel in HI HAT HATTIE “Power Woman” in MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL- National Tour.  Evilene in THE WIZ,  Barbara Jordan  in I, BARBARA JORDAN, originating the role of Candy in REJOICE!, Jeannette in CROWNS, Ida B. Wells 4 in CONSTANT STAR, Lou Bessie in THE OLD SETTLER & Pastor Margaret in AMEN CORNER. 

Reflection on Spark at Cummins Theater

Ensemble Free Theater Norway in collaboration with Cummins Theatre, Merredin, Western Australia

November 11, 2012 

Directed by Brendan McCall 

       By Brendan McCall 

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

Unfortunaltey, much of our public dialogue (in the media, in culture, in our communities) here in the Whetbelt does not focus on the stories of contemporary war veterans, except when there is tragedy - such as the recent deaths of Australians in Afghanistan last month. The stories of female veterans are even more absent, specifically; as well as the impact on the families of veterans. My interest in participating in this global reading of Spark was to ignite a greater awareness of these issues with our communit and hopefully create a meaningful dialogue. 

The SPARK scheme is community building (in a worldwide sense) set of readings. What is one place, organizaiton, or person in your city that that supports your theatre work? And whart 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 organizaiton. 

The Cummins Theatre is supported by a variety of groups - from our arts-centered community groups (The Merredin Repertory Club, the Merredin Fine Arts Society), as well as the organizations such as our local government, community resource centers, and local businesses. We also have a number of dedicated volunteers throughout the community that gernously give their time and energy to insure that the Theatre conintues to offer a variety of cultural products and activities. 

What's Next For Your Company? 

The Cummins Theatre has an exciting array of touring shows coming to town, from Ireland's Tumble Circus combining circus with comedy and theatre; to Italy's Luca Ciarla performing electric violin to live animation of Fiddler in the Loop. We're also proud to host the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow again this year, as well as a new dance/theater work from Buzz Dance Theater, Goodbye Jamie Boyd.  We're also offering live simulcasts of events from Black Swan State Theatre Company and West Australian Symphony Orchestra, a new film festival in March, and the creation of new regional and international artists residency programs. 

Brendan McCall is the Artistic Director of Ensemble Free Theater Norway and the Manager of The Cummins Theatre in Western Australia.




Talking Spark: A Q and A with Caridad Svich


Question: How did this ‘global reading scheme’ with the NoPassport theatre alliance and your play come about? Is this something you have always wanted to do?
CARIDAD SVICH in reply: I founded NoPassport theatre alliance and press in 2003. The alliance publishes new writing and translations, stages national theatre conferences, and serves as an advocacy group for artists who work with and about cross-cultural expressions of diversity and difference. NoPassport is unincorporated and really, at day's end, a collective of artists and scholars. Yet, for me personally as founder, the goal has always been to try to generate an international project somehow. Between April and June of 2012, my play THE WAY OF WATER, which is set in the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon disaster, received 50 readings across the US and around the world to commemorate the disaster, as far as Pretoria, South Africa, Toronto, Waterloo (Canada), Berlin, London, Glasgow, Wales, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo and Tasmania, Australia (at the University of Tasmania School of Performance and Visual Arts). It was the first global reading scheme NoPassport ever attempted, and it was galvanizing in ways unexpected. You can check out our webpage at For me, the scheme combined my twin goals as artist and activist and a bigger idea that I'd been thinking about for some time about how to engage directly and creatively with communities at the national and international level through a much more grass-roots, lo-fi way of sharing theatre-work.
As a playwright, often, much time is spent waiting and waiting to put a play on, when in fact you are writing to a specific cultural moment always. Rarely does the work meet its cultural moment, unless you're doing street or guerrilla theatre, when trying to put a play on, simply because of the logistics of funding, hierarchies of theatre season planning and programming, etc. So, for me, the scheme, which as really an activist intervention and kind of dare, shifted the paradigm a bit. I felt truly emboldened by the responses from THE WAY OF WATER scheme and somehow felt, as I was writing SPARK, which is the third play in an American quartet of plays which includes THE WAY OF WATER, if it would be at all possible to dare another scheme again and find collaborating partners in this shared ritual project. 
The play itself SPARK came about because I was thinking about both the recent, ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars and how little of the theatre and artworks related to these wars, at least from the US perspective, have focused on the plight of women and specifically female veterans. I was also thinking about the continual class divide in the US, the gap which is ever greater between the haves and have-littles, and especially in the southern US, how issues of class and economic disparity are magnified - there is, in effect, less social mobility in the south because of deeply entrenched class divisions, than in other parts of the US. I also wanted to write a play about sisters - something I hadn't done before - to pay homage a little bit to Chekhov, as it were - and to look at a female-centred household as the focus of the play. 
Question: With the play itself, have you yourself been touched by the loss experienced with war?
CARIDAD SVICH in reply: Over the years, I have written many plays that deal with men and women in war or water's aftermath. As a pacifist, exploring the traumas of war on human beings and the earth we inhabit - the damage wars wage on the very ecology of our communities, eco-systems and more - has been central to my writing in one way or another for a long time. One of my early plays ALCHEMY OF DESIRE/DEAD-MAN'S BLUES is about a young widow grieving the loss of her husband killed in a recent war. A huge component of my work as a playwright has also engaged with contemporary reconfigurations of ancient Greek tragedies, and well, if you look at Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, there are plenty of war stories there! My family's background is in Cuba, Argentina, Spain and Croatia. My mom went through the Cuban revolution, my dad's family went through the dirty wars in Argentina, and I have family members who suffered under Franco's rule in Spain and during the Balkan wars as well. So, the fact of war (civil or otherwise) has always been in my family's history. I have also had students who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their stories have been part of my creative writing classes. The fact that the US has been in Afghanistan for 11 years is significant, and yet, there is very little coverage - in print or multiple media platforms - about the war here. It, and the Iraq war as well, have become "theoretical" to a great many in the collective US consciousness. The highest suicide rate amongst veterans are those returning from these wars, and the rate of homelessness among female veterans is also very high. The alienation and disaffection felt by many of our veterans is clear. Although there are many war stories to be told and that have been told, I wanted to contribute somehow to the dialogue theatrically, because history keeps repeating, doesn't it? And it's up to the artist-citizens to keep reminding us who we are and why, and indeed, to not forget.
Question: Or what was inspiration for writing the play?
CARIDAD SVICH in reply: This play was written on the heels of THE WAY OF WATER. It shares themes of dispossession, trauma, and economic disparity, and a focus on small town communities and families in danger of being or feeling as if they have been left behind as they struggle to remake and repair their lives.For me, SPARK is a much more ritualized play. Its use of original songs, and existing Army cadences, for one, place it in a much more heightened poetic terrain, even though on the surface, it may appear to be realism. It's a very tender play - fragile, gentle - in its structure and its sensibility. What I mean by that is that it looks at the little moments in people's lives against the backdrop of a larger social-historical moment, and that it treats its characters with affection and tenderness, despite their trouble and rage.
Question: What do you hope your play will achieve? Is it to highlight issues surrounding veterans of war, particularly women veterans?
CARIDAD SVICH in reply: I think plays are mysterious things. Honestly. I don't write "message" plays. At day's end. I may sometimes come from an activist intent when I make theatre pieces, but I believe theatre is poetry. It is a heightened form. Does it engage publically? Yes. It is a public art form. It is in the body politic. But it lives within and a little bit outside the body politic, at its best. It can transcend, hopefully, and not merely be a mirror. I hope SPARK can offer a space/place for healing. I hope it can stir a conversation about veterans, family, ties that bind, ties that wound. Yes, I do hope too it can highlight the plight of women veterans, and how so very often their stories are seen in the light.
Question: What other work do you have in the pipeline?
CARIDAD SVICH in reply: My play GUAPA, which is about US Latina family life and a young woman who wants to play soccer/football, receives its second and third productions soon as part of a National New Play Network rolling world premiere at Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis and Miracle Theatre Group in Portland, Oregon. My play, based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez' novel, LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA just premiered at Repertorio Espanol in NYC, where it is still running. I am working on the last play of this American Quartet of plays (that includes GUAPA, THE WAY OF WATER and SPARK) right now, and maybe another global scheme will occur?


Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) SPARK Reading

Michael Schwartz

November 9, 2012, 8:00 P.M.

I suppose for our reading group, it all comes back to this line: “Kiss me, Hector. Kiss me in the goddamn rain!!” That was our go-to line if we wanted to crack each other up, and throughout both our rehearsals, it never failed to do so. Now, that sounds like I’m making fun of the line, or that I think it’s a bad line—I’m not, and it isn’t. But the laughter requires some explanation. 

I directed a university reading, and the actors were students. I’ve learned two things about directing students, or maybe more accurately, one perplexing paradox: student actors are simultaneously afraid of being openly emotional and yet eager to jump right into the deepest emotional morasses a script can offer. The problem was that the line was openly emotional—our first response (I say “our” because my emotional maturity is roughly the same as my students) was to laugh. Then a funny thing happened—the more I gave the actress who read Evelyn permission to laugh at that line (Evelyn herself might well realize that kissing in the rain is incredibly Hollywood, and therefore incredibly out of character for her), the more she was determined to let Evelyn’s joy carry her away without the meta-commentary. That commitment was one that the entire cast shared—from working on “Carolina” accents to learning the songs to singing them in harmony, none of which I asked for in my desire to keep everything as simple as possible. The students—lovely, intelligent, talented students all-- took Ms. Svich’s passionate, poetic speeches and delivered them…well, with passion and poetry.  In the end, I would say the most I could take credit for was staying the hell out of the way and letting the student actors tell Ms. Svich’s story.

As for the 20 students in attendance who asked us such great questions about veterans, PTSD, and Evelyn’s “twig” ritual, I think they were as moved and inspired as I was. The raw emotional truth that they experienced led them, I think, to be more interested in truths more specific to the plight of veterans and of those in poor communities for whom active service is one of the few viable economic choices. Well, I might be projecting a bit with that last statement, but I think you can catch a glimpse of that sort of engagement in a reading like this, and I think it happened this time. Or maybe “glimpse” isn’t the right word—in deference to Ms. Svich, more like a spark.

Thank you for letting us be a small part of this terrific and vital project.

Michael Schwartz is a temporary assistant professor in the department of theater and dance at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches history, improv and dramatrugy. 

A Note For Spark at the Cherry Lane


The plays of Caridad Svich are plays of action. They are, each in their own way, a call to stand up, look out and examine the world around us, loudly or quietly. They nestle into the small moments that make up our lives and burrow deep into the crevices of what often tears us apart, but also lead us on the road to healing.

Spark is being read nationally and internationally over the course of late October and November at over 35 theaters and universities in collaboration with NoPassport Theatre Alliance and Press. Today, November 11th in addition to our reading here in New York, Spark is being read at theatres in Chicago, Houston, Albuquerque, Pasadena and Merredin, Western Australia. 

Tonight’s reading is special not only because of the excellent cast and panel assembled here at the Cherry Lane, but because it is Veterans Day. On Veterans Day we honor our fighting men and women past and present. We honor their contribution and their spirit. Tonight we ask, as Spark asks, that we also honor what happens when the soldier comes home and face a new personal war.

Spark is a call to action, a call to question, and a call to discussion. Spark is a piece of theatre, but also the story of too many lives of war veterans and their families, especially of those caught in the fault lines of our nation’s crippling economic divide.

Please join us tonight, watch and enjoy, but as you leave the theatre, please answer the call in whatever way you can.

             Zac Kline

            Spark Scheme Dramaturge

            Veterans Day, November 11, 2012



New from Santa Catalina Editions: ART & DECADENCE PLAYS


New for October 2012 from Santa Catalina Editions:
(Magnificent Waste, Lulu Ascending, Tilt Heaven)
by Caridad Svich
The three plays by OBIE-winning playwright Caridad Svich examine varying aspects of art and decadence through the lens of contemporary visual art, photography, painting, and fashion. MAGNIFICENT WASTE (2012 finalist for PEN Center USA Literary Award in Drama), LULU ASCENDING (a play on Wedekind's Lulu plays) and TILT HEAVEN are acid-dipped views of celebrity culture and consumerism, suffused with a hard ache for the lost souls that inhabit their distinct harsh-lit, emptied worlds of sadness.
ISBN: 978-1-300-34935-8
Paperback: $20.00
purchase link:
Santa Catalina Editions is an imprint of NoPassport.