My initial attraction to any play to be produced at Writers Theatre is the passion of the director. That is particularly true in the case of Buried Child. Having had the privilege of producing an extraordinary series of stagings by the remarkable Kimberly Senior, hearing of her desire to revive this American classic was immensely exciting. Part of the ongoing and evolving mission of Writers Theatre is to explore the canon with fresh perspective and, given Kimberly’s wonderful Hedda Gabler and her emotionally riveting Anne Frank, I was excited to see what she would do with Shepard’s extraordinary, Pulitzer Prize-winning text. If, as Hamlet says, the point of theatre is “to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure,” then Kimberly’s instincts are prescient to say the least.
In this present moment, discontent with the broken promises of the American Dream and the palpable anger of our rural citizens has never been higher. At the same time, a conversation about women’s rights has resurfaced and a demand for meaningful inclusion and representation has come passionately to the surface. This time, however, the debate has launched with a ferocity that is forcing difficult but necessary dialogues at every level of our culture. In Buried Child, both progressive and conservative agendas come to the forefront and manifest in dynamic and searingly dramatic ways through the medium of the most recognizable of carriers—the American Family. The patriarchy is challenged. The rage is unleashed. The resulting drama is breathtakingly articulated. In short, it’s a perfect night at the theatre.
I envy those of you who have not previously experienced the energizing catharsis of a Shepard play. And for those of you who know Shepard’s work, this will be an original and vital take on his conversations. It is important to recognize that Shepard succeeded in changing the landscape of American Drama precisely because he made thrillingly engaging, entertaining and completely accessible plays. And what a cast and design team Ms. Senior has assembled to roar this play into life! This play demands our active participation and if we give it, we will be beautifully rewarded by playwright, director, cast and design team. This text is a foundational reason to keep making theatre.
Before I sign off, I’d like to offer my profound thanks to you for engaging with us this season. I hope you have appreciated the wide selection of drama we have striven to bring to life for you. If a play or two have not been to your taste, I hope you have at least had some provocative conversations about what worked for you and what didn’t. The point of a subscription series is not only to please (although that is one important aim), but additionally (and importantly) to create a full spectrum of conversation that offers access points into the important issues facing the nation at any one moment. To that end, please consider joining us for another season. I am fiercely excited about the plays, directors and artists we have assembled to engage with you in 2018/19. I have also listened carefully to the feedback you have given over the course of this season and tried to refine our selection process while staying true to the mission of the company. It’s going to be a wonderful ride across the landscape of the contemporary soul. Please join us for another journey into the word and the artist.