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.

C. Reeder

WHAT DO ANN BOLEYN & WEETAMOO HAVE IN COMMON?

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