The Captive: My Backstory

To Whom It May Concern:

22 June 2018

During a graduate playwriting workshop for my MFA with the University of New Orleans (2008), I wrote and workshopped a play titled, The Captive (working title). At the time, my life took many downward turns (business failures, my husband got cancer and died, etc.). Also, I needed to find more allies in the Native American Community to support me. I still have the good fortune to be working with Francis J. O’Brien, Jr., the former President, Aquidneck Indian Council in Newport, RI and a native language philologist/writer (Moondancer) who continues to support me with, “There is no reason for you not to proceed at this (The Captive) as a non-Native trying to make a dramatic statement to non-Native audience. Many works by non-Native exist as you know.   Your motivation to get the language right is commendable and Natives –like myself– will assist.”

I have many reasons for writing this story. The first being, my ancestry goes back to the Mayflower (Allerton), and other Puritans, and Quakers who were part of these 17th Century events. I am also a direct descendant of James Hovey (and others) who fought and/or died in King Philip’s War, so I am extremely interested in this period.

But as a child, I spent many summers at a Church of Christ Church Camp near Serpent Mound in southern Ohio, and something happened to me in the woods around that place. I longed to be in the woods and not in a church building with my mind and heart buried in a book.

In addition, around the time of working on my MFA, I saw Tecumseh, the outdoor drama that’s been running for 36 years near Chillicothe, Ohio and it so offended my sensibilities in the way Native Americans were portrayed (a bit insipid and dull) that I felt inspired to write something more in-line with the facts as I believed them.

As a young adult, I deprogrammed myself of the dogmatic religion I was born into (working in professional theater helped, as well as, touring the world singing with the forward-thinking artist, John Denver). And writing The Captive has been a cathartic release of pent-up anger and frustration over the mistreatment of indigenous societies everywhere, coupled with my angst regarding religions that disenfranchise women. My hope is for non-Natives to visualize the Weetamoe and Mary Rowlandson encounter in a way that will affect them long after they leave the theater and maybe consider ways to work on how to eliminate intolerance in our daily lives.

Sincerely,

Conrad Reeder

ConradReeder@gmail.com

https://conradreeder.com/

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