Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Forsake thy cage, thy rope of sands..."


Thoughts on Curious Frog's production of Rope of Sands

by Toni Seger

At the time I wrote this play, I never would have imagined it being produced with a mixed race cast, but it works beautifully and adds layers for the audience to ponder. The bias I wrote about was financial. Meredith makes less money than her uncle and cousin and all of their communications with her are colored (small pun intended), by that bias. Adding the element of race, however, compounds the questions it raises. The fact that race is never mentioned in the script also works well. There’s no reason why it would, in this case, when the focus is the effect of a family suicide that is not race based.

As I got to know Renee Rodriquez, I wondered if she might want to approach the claustrophobic suburban world in which Rope of Sands exists with a mixed race cast, but I assumed Meredith would be the character with dark skin. Renee turned the tables on me by making Meredith white, with all the ironies that choice brings, and the beauty of the casting illustrates that an unconscious bias can appear in any form.

I’ve created a lot of characters, but Meredith is one that’s always stayed with me. When I write, I become the conduit for the passions of my characters and I let them speak for themselves (which makes alcohol helpful because it loosens their tongues and they start saying things they’d normally sit on). I created Meredith for all the folks who wish they’d said the thing they didn’t dare say, at the last family gathering they didn’t want to attend…

Frustration is a good dramatic driver for me and frustration is the underlying emotion that drives Rope of Sands. It’s the frustration of people who desperately want and need to connect with each other, but keep failing at it without realizing the role they play in sabotaging things.

I’m thrilled that the feedback has been so enthusiastic and I’m very proud of this production. I’m also very moved at the seriousness and commitment with which everyone involved approached it. A playwright could not hope for more than to have their work treated with respect by the talented people tasked with interpreting it.

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