Meadowland received its World Premiere with Second Wind Productions,
January 9-31st at The Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco. A small town sheriff, the ghost of a brother who died under shadowed circumstances,
a forbidden love, and a missing woman weave a tapestry of mystery and deceit. The play follows two
brothers: one who chose a more righteous path to become sheriff of their small town, the other, more
rebellious sibling who married the sheriff's childhood love and then joined the army to find bigger
adventures. The younger brother has already been dead for two years; the exact nature of his death
a mystery. Unwilling to move on from this world, he has proven to be something of a pesky spirit
until he brings his brother an unsolved murder: a body in the woods, a missing woman, and a secret
that my hold the key to his own unsolved death. But as the inquiry deepens, it becomes clear that
the Sheriff is actually the un-named Investigator of Rashomon, and the message the brother is
trying to communicate lies closer to heart.
Meadowland explores the back story of Akutagawa's "In A Grove" in much the same way that Tom
Stoppard's masterpiece, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead explores the tale of Hamlet. The
play delves into the intrigue and mystery behind the central characters, creating a visually
stunning and emotionally haunting portrait of honor, truth, and passion within a small
community. The script is a unique blend of theatrical media, incorporating elements of dance,
music, and live and pre-recorded video.
Meadowland is a play deeply rooted in cultural sensibility. The actors may be from any single
ethnicity: Japanese, Middle Eastern, Native American, African, or any other culture with well-defined
social norms. They may also be cast from several ethnicities as long as the actors represent cultures
with robust social values and roles. It utilizes nine actors (7M, 2F), and a single,
[May, 2008] Second Wind Productions (San Francisco) Reading
[Jan, 2009] Second Wind Productions (San Francisco) Production
Below: images from the World Premiere of Meadowland, presented by Second Wind Productions,
January 9-31, 2009 at The Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco.
I happened upon Ryonusuke Akutagawa's short story, "In A Grove", quite by accident, without ever having seen Kurasawa's
film version. I was initially drawn to the simple theatricality of the story-- monologues spoken to an invisible audience-- and
also by the peculiar "Ah-ha" of the ending. About three months passed before the work began to speak to me as a dramatist. First,
I had to solve the issue of what the story meant within a contemporary context; the original was dependent on the firm social
values of ancient Japanese culture. In tackling this obstacle, the character of the brother emerged, a soldier-- perhaps of
the Iraq war, and the thorny relationship inherent to siblings.
In my last play, The Gravedigger's Tango, I had been exploring the relationship between audience and the theory that the
fourth wall in any performace "fluctuates" in thickness. With Meadowland I wanted to create a visually mesmerizing and
unique experience. To accomplish this, I drew on an arsenal of visual tools: masks, video projection, music, and movement.
The ultimate goal was the manipulation of that fourth wall. In a sense, I moved the fourth wall onto the
stage itself. It appears in the constantly shifting levels of
reality. The play is filled with stories within stories, ghosts, and memories. Each of the two projection screens represent
different layers of reality; a scrim provides a third level; and the
no-man's area of the stage a fourth. In the end, the audience became the fifth layer of reality. And as the action moves between
layers, my hope is that the audience psychologically moves with the shifting