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. 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. 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.

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).

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.

C. Reeder