Modern Faith. Rooted Art.
I first claimed to have had a mystical experience at seven years old. I informed my parents that my recently-deceased great grandmother was visiting my bedroom each night and sitting in my rocking chair. I was lying, but the story served to ease my grief - and that of my parents. Since then, I have continued to explore the art of story-telling and maintain a respect for the mystical as a playwright. I earned my BA in Theatre and Philosophy from Saint Mary’s College, where I became obsessed with early Enlightenment philosopher Baruch Spinoza. After moving to New York, I completed my MFA in Playwriting at The New School for Drama, where I became obsessed with the controversial Pope Pius XII. These duel fascinations gave rise to the plays Spinoza's Ethics and The Chalice.
In total, I am the author of eight full-length plays and one musical. My works include San Luis, 1989 (2012 Best Play Award, ACTF Region III), Under Further Review (2015 Princess Grace Finalist) and The Chalice (2017 production starring Tony-Nominee Austin Pendleton.) I am a Core Member of The Skeleton Rep(resents), an independent production company dedicated to the exploration of modern myth through theater, dance, and film. I am also a practicing Catholic, continually seeking a concrete manifestation of the supernatural experience I conjured as a child.
I am the product of eight years of Catholic women’s education, where feminism and divine worship are inextricably enmeshed. This cemented a tension-filled combination of traditionalist belief and modernist exploration that permeates and elevates my worldview. My first play was a comedy about a female God who runs a coffee stand at a bus stop which I wrote during my senior year of high school. I ran the production like a tyrant because I was a teenager and had a vision. Fortunately, I survived the experience with my relationships intact and a conviction that I would be writing plays for the rest of my life.
I continued my studies at Saint Mary’s College, studying theater and philosophy. During that time, I received a grant to travel so San Luis, Colorado to interview residents involved in a mass poaching raid. It was the largest such raid in US history and openly targeted indigenous communities. The resulting play, San Luis, 1989, won the American College Theater Festival’s full length play award for the Midwest region. At the same time, I was writing fantasy and completing my thesis on Spinoza’s ethical system.
Moving to New York City was a culture shock, but not for the reasons one might expect. The secular world was no different than I expected; I was different. I was not a journalist, philosopher, story-teller and playwright who also happened to be Catholic. I was a Catholic. My other identities fell away and my religion began to define me in ways I did not expect and did not like. I lost sight of the nuance and wonder at the world around me that had been so plentiful just a few years before. During my three years at The New School for Drama, my technical skills developed but my soul slept.
I didn’t connect with Ria DiLullo, artistic director at The Skeleton Rep, until the summer after graduation, when she directed my comedy Whatchamacallit: A Play About Jesus, the story of teenage atheist inconveniently pregnant with a miracle child. This rehearsal process cracked me open and brought me back to who I am as an artist. Later, Ria invited me to join The Skeleton Rep as a Core Member and I joyfully accepted.
I love the mission of The Skeleton Rep because of the reverence with which we approach mythology. I used to prickle at comparisons between religion and myth, because so often to call something a myth is to discredit it. (“Climate change is a myth.” “The Christmas story is a myth.”) But The Skeleton Rep is never so arrogant with its stories. Climate change, Zeus, and Jesus Christ, are real. They exist on a plane well above our own, yet intimately infused in our daily lives. God is nowhere, of course, but They’re definitely in your breakfast cereal. Lest there be any confusion, my faith is not a mere story-structure for understanding the universe. (“Yes, but what is Jesus,” she says, while blowing cigarette smoke in your face.) I’m quite literal when I talk about my religion.
When I ultimately meet God I expect Them to touch me, or what’s the point? I touch Christ every Sunday in the Eucharist, an Earthly ritual in which humans commune with a literal God in a physical way. This is the experience I hope to embody in my art.
The Dramatists Guild of America | The Skeleton Rep(resents)
Awards and Recognition
The Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship Competition Finalist | 2015
KTACTF Full Length Play Award (Region III) | 2012
The Chalice | Xavier Theatre and Film | 2017 | Director: Tom Paolino
Spinoza's Ethics | Dream Up! Festival | 2016 | Director: Dianna Garten
Whatchamacallit | The Skeleton Rep | 2015 | Director: Ria DiLullo
Confessional | The Skeleton Rep | In Development
The Inconvenient Miracle | The Skeleton Rep | In Development