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). The true story revolves around two women, Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan Minister’s wife and Weetamoo, a Native American leader, during King Philip’s War in New England (1675–78).
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 play of which the underbelly is about a land grab and the need for some to dominate the natural world, as well as, other human beings. When I started a family tree in 2004 I found that my ancestry goes back to the Mayflower (Allerton) and other Puritans and Quakers who were part of these 17th Century events, such as my Gr-Grandfather, James Hovey, who died in King Philip’s War. Around that time I read Mary Rowlandson’s book about her captivity during this war and my dream world went wild. The Captive was born.
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, specifically a KJV Bible.
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. Reading, studying works of art, meditating and listening to my own heart helped. Working in professional theater and being exposed to all the good the world at-large has to offer, as well as, touring the world singing with the forward-thinking artist John Denver helped give me skills to hear my own inner voice.
Writing The Captive was a cathartic release of my own pent-up anger and frustration over the mistreatment of indigenous societies everywhere, coupled with an angst regarding religions that disenfranchise women. My hope is for non-Natives and Natives to visualize the Weetamoo 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.
Originally published at conradreeder.com on September 3, 2018.