What do Anne Boleyn and Weetamoo of Colonial New England have in common? They were both Queens and both had their heads chopped off.
The Captive presents the story of Weetamoo, a Native American Queen in 17th century New England, who led her Pocasset braves (the ones who survived the scourge of European diseases) in battle against the invading English and their Native Allies during King Philip’s War (1675-76). The Colonial Army was organized under the auspices of the United Colonies, a body formed to combat Natives that evolved into an enduring institution, eventually challenging their overlord, the British Crown, a hundred years later in the American Revolution.
King Philip’s War (Metacom) was the last concerted effort of coastal northeast Woodland Nations to expel the English, in particular the Puritans, and they nearly succeeded. This singular event ignited a firestorm that swept over the entire North American Continent, annihilating ancient cultures, entire eco systems, and the animals they supported. For eleven weeks and five days in early 1676, when a Confederation victory was not assured, Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan Preacher’s wife, was Weetamoo’s slave.
This true encounter has been brought to life on stage in context with the events of their time. The metaphorical story of Annie and Joshua gives voice to the dispossessed. Musical instruments, period songs, and dialogue lifted from historic journals all combine with the thrill of spectacle into a dramatic play in two acts: THE CAPTIVE
Painting: Indian Princess by Anthony Gruerio
I speak for dead people—some with real historical lives that can be read about in books and some who only live in my head, but I hear them speak. Just because people are dead doesn’t mean they never existed. Just because people are dead doesn’t mean they don’t have a story.
The challenge for this writer is to portray these people as authentically as possible, a daunting challenge at best. Sometimes the facts of their story have been written down, at least some of the facts. As any writer or reader knows, sometimes there are big holes in the facts of someone’s story. How they thought and felt is another matter. Even writing what I think and feel about my own life can be a mission sometimes, at least in a way that others will feel compelled to read it. Throughout history, I bet people who journaled felt the same pressure, at least the ones hoping to publish–very tricky this stuff of portraying a story, anybody’s story. And what about the one’s who didn’t journal? Who speaks for them, especially when someone else tells their story and gets even the facts wrong?
How can I explain my need to write the words of the dead? The Trickster enters into my stomach (through a process I don’t entirely understand) and creates this “havoc” or a “gut feeling,” and away I go. I start hearing dead people talk. Dead does not mean silent, as long as there is someone to hear them and type down what they say (I hardly write anymore, my hand hurts). So, I hear it, and I type it. Whether or not the dead are happy about this, I have no idea. They haven’t said one way or the other, but they keep talking, and as long as they’re talking, I’ll keep listening, and typing, speaking for the dead, as best I can.
Then there’s music, I hear that, too. But that’s another story…
Green (my addition) Dragon from the 13th century Southern Song Dynasty.
Trickster, is that you?
And Happy Birthday to my daughter Ashlee! What a story she will tell…