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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


IT SEEMS CAPTIVE MINDS WORKING TOGETHER CAN WIN WARS, build towns and universities, but at what cost to humanity and the environment? And is it worth that cost?

The Mayflower Compact, deemed by some as one of the documents that inspired the U.S. Constitution, came from a “people who had more in common with a cult than a democratic society” (Philbrick 40). These days, 21st Century Puritans and their allies offer the gift of a “safe” society, a gift I seriously doubt they can deliver.

ON TOP OF THAT, A PURITAN SOCIETY charges a hefty price then and now. Literature, music, science, art, freedom of thought or speech, invention; all suffer in a society dominated by captive minds (check out Cromwell’s England—no laughing matter). Like Mary said, “Mine eyes have seen it”—mine, too.

My journey to escape my captive mind began around the age of eighteen. I had moved away from home with my (now ex) husband, who had left college to join the Army, into the vast and howling wilderness of Army life. Luckily, I attended a local college near the base that was concerned with education, not biblical dogma, and I started reading books called literature, but more importantly, I stopped going to church. There is a reason backsliding is attacked vehemently from the pulpit. In order for the mind to stay captive, a constant flow of dogma must be administered. Ballet, theater, literature, wine, films, meditation on the inner light we all share, and all holidays, religious or otherwise—I enjoy with gusto—daily reminders of the rich culture I almost missed out on. Oh, and I wear a bathing suit in front of men, and enjoy (God forbid) sex.

After thinking about this a lot, ( I WROTE A PLAY ABOUT WEETAMOO AND MARY ) I wonder if Mary would have been more receptive to the Native People around her without the physical Bible in her hand, nourishing the mustard seeds of dogma grown as big as oak trees in her head?

“I repaired under these thoughts to my Bible (my great comfort in that time)” (Lincoln 137). As soon as I had an opportunity, I took my Bible to read, (Lincoln 139). I was turning the leaves of my Bible, and the Lord brought to me some Scriptures, which did a little revive me (Lincoln 142). “I had time and liberty again to look into my Bible: Which was my Guid [sic] by day, and my Pillow by night” (Lincoln 144).

Time and time again Mary buried her face in the Bible to escape the tangible world. Granted, the poor woman deserved some respite, but why block all sensible feelings?

Mary refused to acknowledge that the kindness and “common mercies” shown to her many times during her ordeal came from people who were suffering greatly themselves. It was a sympathetic Native that gave her the Bible in the first place. In Mary’s captive mind these friendly Natives were only agents of the “goodness of God,” not free-agents acting out of the kindness they felt in their human hearts (Strong 101). The material world was strange, and the people in it were strangers. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I believe in the existence of the material world as the expression of the spiritual…the laws of both are one” (Dillaway 33).

Puritan Mary didn’t see it that way. The singular expression of the spiritual for her came from pulpit-fed perceptions—reinforced daily by the Bible she held in her hand. Only a savage heathen would like living in a material world of “vanities” in the “vast and howling wilderness ” (Lincoln 163). The Bible was the software running the captivity program in Mary’s mind.

Yes, Mary was wronged by the Natives-—her daughter and others were killed, but why did Mary feel she deserved this suffering? “Affliction I wanted, and affliction I had” (Lincoln 142). How sadomasochistic is that? The Natives living in 17th century New England, of course, had many reasons to be angry and vengeful. Their lives had been turned upside down: their land stolen, their people killed and worse–sold into slavery. Native People who lived through the European encounter suffered unimaginable loss.

Weetamoo and her allies may have briefly captured Mary, and done her physical harm, but Weetamoo’s entire world was annihilated by the onslaught of Puritan emigrants greedy for land. Had the Natives of New England worked together, King Philip’s War might have ended differently, changing the course of history, or at least some of history. In the spring of 1676, the Natives nearly drove the “English to the very edge of the sea” (Philbrick 302). Although outnumbered, the Natives were better shots, and maneuvered easily through the environment, unlike the clumsy English farmers unfamiliar with skulking warfare.

The irony is Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan preacher’s wife, and Weetamoo, Queen of Pocasset, were both captives. Weetamoo was a captive to exterior events that spun out of her control and Mary was a captive in her own mind.

If we exist because we think, THEN AS NOW, the struggle to think clearly continues…


Dillaway, Newton, ed. The Gospel of Emerson. Mass: The Montrose P, 1949.

Winthrop, John. “On Liberty.” 1645. Constitution Society.5 Aug 2008 http://www.constitution.org/

Lincoln, Charles H., ed. Narratives of the Indian Wars 1675 – 1699. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

Mather, Increase. A Brief History of the Warr with the Indians in New-England (1676). Ed. Paul Royster. Nebraska: U of Nebraska, 2006. 8 Aug 08

Page, Jake. In The Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000 -Year History of American Indians. USA: Free Press, 2003.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. USA: Penguin, 2007.

Strong, Pauline Turner. Captive Selves, Captivating Others: The Politics and Poetics of Colonial American Captivity Narratives. USA: Westview P, 1999.

More information and links: http://www.conradreeder.com/TheCaptive.htm

Conrad “Connie” Reeder was born in Columbus, Ohio, and recently graduated from the University of New Orleans with a MFA in Film, Theater, & Communication Arts with a concentration in Playwriting.

The Captive is a dramatic play in two acts.

Contact: conradreeder@gmail.com

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Enter stage right. THEATRE OF THE MUSE™


Mission: Model THEATRE OF THE MUSE™ after the church structure with franchise potential. People would recognize comfortable parallels. A Minister/Reverend/Priest would now be the Director. The Choir is on call for all the Musicals. The Musical Director, Dance Captain, Stage Manager, and Costume Designer replace Elders and Deacons. And the Communion is the Dinner after the Friday night event, along with the collection plate to help with funding, since the entire Congregation or Membership would be the Executive Producers. Ongoing rehearsals would take place one night a week.

To be a member of THEATRE OF THE MUSE™ would require some sort of tithing whether it be money or labor. Remember, this is modeled from the rituals of established religions. Members would focus on their daily play readings for their upcoming event. Artisans in textiles, carpentry, or props would offer their skills, just like members of a church gift their skills to their congregations. Prior experience in theatre would not be required. On the job training is always a preferred method for learning. There would not be the pressure to be a “perfect” performer, other than fulfilling one’s inner desire to present their personal best.

Print a book endorsed by THEATRE OF THE MUSE™ with a collection of accepted Universal Truth such as, but not limited to, the words attributed to Jesus or Buddha or Krishna or The Dalai Lama or Voltaire or Kahil Gibran or Moliére or Mohammed or Beckett or…Gertrude Stein? Well, why not? Women need someone, and Gertrude was considered “sagely” in her time. Let people decide which sage speaks to their personal needs.

THEATRE OF THE MUSE™ is where people go to celebrate life and purge their angst, not learn ways to hate or generational racism or condone war or be fearful. A fulfilled life lived–the goal.

People can still seek treatment from experts like Psychiatrists or Doctors if they have unanswered questions or needs. They can retain their belief in Religion. THEATRE OF THE MUSE™ does not expect nor desire to replace the faith one has in a particular Religion. The goal is to enhance life and offer ritual to those who need it.

The weekly Production would take place every Friday Night, with one extra rehearsal, so participating in THEATRE OF THE MUSE™ would not interfere with other religious practices.

The Crucifixion of Jesus
could be presented in December, and in January King Lear or Rent or Oklahoma or The Odd Couple or The Ramayana (India) or The White Snake (Chinese)

Plays like ‘Nite Mother could be used to deal with the tragedy of suicide with a guided discussion by a professional following the performance. Psychologists have used this approach as an effective way to reach suffering people, and sometimes get amazing results. Sponsoring a Psychodrama event with dramatic action guided by professionals in the field has proven to increase physical and emotional well being (Moreno 2000).

Members could present their own productions in a once-a-year festival, featuring new plays. Writing is very therapeutic and journaling is encouraged in most rehabs. The reason being, it opens up a dialogue, a gateway to the mind that essentially seeks pleasure, not addiction to life-killing habits. Most people just want to be heard, be understood. Ask any Psychiatrist.

Use monitors to prompt actors, so memorization is not a factor in participating, and put up screens for the audience to sing along, follow the bouncing ball for Everything’s Coming Up Roses.

THEATRE OF THE MUSE™ aspires to be a community theatre that serves the people in the community, enriching lives and hearts, by providing an outlet for emotional growth and unrealized talent.

The Arts have always transcended gender, race, sexual orientation, and nationality. Why not use the Arts to save humanity from itself? Art has always been an outlet for people looking to find meaning in their lives or a release from misery. Why not use a weekly “hands-on” dose of the Arts to help people explore the divinity within?

THEATRE OF THE MUSE™. Your ticket for a divine experience!

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Work Cited

Moreno, Zerka. Psychodrama, Surplus Reality and the Art of Healing. London, Routledge: 2000.