In the spirit of theatrical whimsy, I thought I’d use today’s blog post to talk about two dream projects that have been on my mind lately.
Those who know me well know that I have long had an obsession with Elizabeth Bishop – particularly the period in which she left Brazil in 1970 to teach at Harvard and fell in love with Alice Methfessel. I first read about their relationship in this New Yorker article by Megan Marshall published in 2016 and have been hooked ever since.
The dualities of her life are fascinating: A Canadian-American lesbian pioneer who never came out, a wealthy orphan, a brilliant mind with a chronically ill body. I’d like to collaborate with a dramaturg and co-writer on creating a magical realist dreamscape play that weaves her illness, alcoholism and the everyday surrealism of her poetry into a story about this period late in her life when she found love and heart-break, ultimately crafting one of my favorite poems: One Art.
In my earliest theatrical memory, I am devising and directing an all-female reenactment play of Purim at the Pinellas County Jewish Day School in Clearwater, Florida. An orphan turned Queen, Esther is faced with a difficult decision: reveal her Jewish identity to save Persian Jews from persecution or keep her identity secret to protect herself. The audience, donned in costume, vigorously spins their noise-making groggers when the villain’s name is spoken. At eight-years-old, I am captivated by the disruptive spirit of the holiday and its heroine. I want to devise a retelling of this story from a diasporic, egalitarian and multi-racial Jewish perspective, incorporating the framework of a group of pre-teen Jewish girls trying to devise the story of Purim with what they know about the world at that age. Devising is a newer form for me as a director, which would be exciting to dive into with a team of generative collaborators.