Narrative Threads - Our Today & Our Yesterday

OUR TODAY: Georgia Long wants to connect. She feels stuck in her D.C. gallery-girl life. The Gulf War hardly feels real, Patriot Missiles? Scuds? peninsulas she’s barely heard of . . . and the USSR unraveling, the cold war over. None of it really hits home. The 1990s -- a decade in waiting for the Millennium, but disconnected itself from the bulk of the centuries on either side. Who will we be? She feels a moderate connection to her work, to the Native American tapestry she sells, but only because “you can feel the work in the weaving”, and she feels like she’s never really worked at all. Not really. The threads of her story are colorless. She has no story to put down in the weft, and despite a strong warp - fiancee, brownstone, and 401k, she has the itch for more.

As we open, Georgia (and her assistant Marc) depart her “strained beige life” in D.C. to meet and seek some connection with the tribe who keeps her gallery in business. “Maybe if I meet them - touch their cracked hands - some of their story will become mine.”

The flight from Dulles International to Detroit is uneventful, but the single runway at Baraga Airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is already under 13 inches of snow as the “puddle jumper” plane lands her in the vast unpopulated north. The winter storm intensifies and nobody shows up to drive her the 42 miles to the Ontonagon Reservation - a name so familiar to her from typing up her gallery tags. As night approaches, and the airport closes, she finds lodging above the only restaurant in town. “Nobody even looks native around here. They just seem tired, oddly happy, and frankly, Norwegian.”

Once out in “MiddleWest Nowheresville” though, her usual calm is constantly upended. Days of falling snow, heavy meals, and perky but impenetrable locals unfold as she tries in vain to get to her Mecca - the Reservation. Marc grows concerned as he sees panic attacks give way to fainting spells and ultimately visions, and she is nearly undone as she learns the stories awakening in her very DNA. A tale of secrets unfolds, a tale of identity that knits her to this very land, and one which she must finally accept as her own. She is guided by Mnemosyne/Pauli Murray back to the 1930s women’s work camp where a woman not so unlike Georgia herself turned trauma into triumph but not without creating scars that echo through generations.          (working on this still - needs expansion and definition, characters and specifics maybe TBD by the company thru improv, research, writings, etc.)

OUR YESTERDAY: Roosevelt v. Roosevelt

We imagine the primary narrative punctuated by and reflected off scenes from the White House in the mid-late 1930s. In these scenes, if he appears at all, the President is always obscured from view receiving a “treatment” behind a screen, in a tub, inside a “reformer” or some similar nonsense. The scenes could depict oval office work being done behind the scenes -- overtly led or subtly goosed by Eleanor and the other cabinet heads?? We may see glimpses of the topography of their marriage, or at least the power dynamic of the administration here. They also serve to build audience familiarity with the She-She-She camp concept and lay the groundwork for the arrival of the “camp girls” and Pauli Murray.

When we travel to this partially imagined past, we do so to further illuminate the power of the female leader, the ways she sidesteps patriarchy, cleans up after it, molds it from the only footing she has. Or we don’t do this. Or it means something else. Cynthia? How do you see this?

In this past we also have a time/space gate to allow Pauli Murray in the guise of Mnemosyne to slip into the present - from gal pal to Eleanor to apparition in Our Present, she informs both worlds, and acts like a genetic conduit herself. Maybe she is one . . . telling stories from within, and before. - never seen this . . . might be good.

Epigenetics, Genotype, Phenotype, and morphology.


“Who I am” creates “What I do.” and/or “What I do” creates “Who I become.”

Genotype: the genetic constitution of an individual organism. (eye color, lung function)

Phenotype: the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment. (beaver dam, bird nest) these actively protect the selfish gene through to the next generation.

Morphology: a branch of biology dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features. (is a part of the Phenotype)

Epigenetics studies stably heritable traits (or "phenotypes") that cannot be explained by changes in DNA sequence. The Greek prefix epi- (Greek: επί- over, outside of, around) in epigenetics implies features that are "on top of" or "in addition to" the traditional genetic basis for inheritance.

If we are talking again about survival, as we always are with genetics, we must have at the root of our Georgia’s genetics -- a need to be afraid, a reason to shut down, a reason to dream? What is it that is encoded in her and the land that says “go to the other place, consult the higher knowledge, shut down to tap in” and brings her, and us,  Mnemosyne the guide to the truth for the audience and our protagonist.

I have an idea here that may be the twist we're looking for. Code Word "Girl Friday"

Lamarck vs. Darwin



Rhythm, Song, and Breath

What cracks through the crust of the earth and into Georgia’s world is a sort of coded knowledge. The code is rhythm, G-C-T-A (the proteins of DNA) and maybe more. It is the drumbeat from beneath and above that awakens her at the chromosomal level.

The colors of her self are turning. Literally



And that color shift is ushered in by our indigenous chorus. Chorindigenously drumming from beyond, before, and always, the beat can be seen as coming from within or without our heroine. It is a reality that emerges as violently as spring emerges from a dormant branch. The cracking of ice to allow a stream to spring to life after a long winter.

Diving Down the Hairy Corkscrew - Imaging Epigenetics for the Stage

Here is where we decide what it looks like through a microscope or on the stage. If Epigenetics are to be a character, or force in this piece, we have to have a way of showing its function to the audience. It’s a series of zoomed-in spirals really, things wound around spools, fibres that form a circular tapestry, a funnel of life.

From BIG

Stem Cell (room) where we set our scene

Nucleus (pod) scene at play

Chromosome (body) four armed cluster

Chromatin (fibrous) bands of DNA -- streamers of information

Nucleosome (bundled) streamers wrapped about bundles of Histones

Histone (tailed) eight make a nucleosome, they have tails

Writers/Erasers/Readers (hands) at the ends of the tails they make the changes


Notes on the Eras


  • Comedy Central is launched

  • Acid Rain Treaty signed btw Canada and US

  • Starbucks first opens in CA

  • QEII visits D.C. in May

  • Apartheid ends

  • Pres. Zachary Taylor is exhumed to check for Arsenic poisoning!! None is found

  • Magic Johnson announces he has HIV

  • Freddie Mercury dies of AIDS

March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945 - The Roosevelt’s White House Years

Female journalists had traditionally been excluded from serious media events at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Roosevelt somewhat leveled the playing field by hosting a series of ladies-only press conferences, which pressured papers into hiring more news-women and helped ER win over female voters.

The courageous aviator inspired Eleanor to apply for her very own piloting license and even took the first lady out for an airborne spin from D.C. to Baltimore in 1933. Years later, after Earhart unexpectedly vanished, a grief-stricken Roosevelt told the press “I am sure Amelia’s last words were ‘I have no regrets.’”

From 1935 to 1962, ER composed six weekly articles about her political views and personal life. Simply entitled “My Day,” the column featured Roosevelt’s musings on such topics as Prohibition, Pearl Harbor, and McCarthy’s communist witch hunt. A disciplined professional, ER missed only a single week’s worth of material, which followed her husband’s untimely death.   

In 1938, the Southern Conference for Human Welfare held its inaugural meeting in Alabama’s “Magic City.” Upon her arrival, Roosevelt sat directly beside an African American associate, ignoring the designated whites-only section en route. After being told that Birmingham’s segregationist policies prohibited whites and blacks from sitting together at public functions, the first lady asked for a ruler.

“Now measure the distance between this chair and that one,” she said after somebody produced one. Upon examining this gap separating the white and black seating areas, the first lady placed her chair directly in its center. There she defiantly sat, in a racial no-man’s land, until the meeting concluded. “They were afraid to arrest her,” one witness claimed.

In fact, Roosevelt advertised seemingly every product from mattresses to hot dogs. Her appearance in the following 1959 TV spot helped establish margarine as one of America’s favorite spreads:

This appearance netted the former first lady $35,000, which she used to purchase 6000 care packages for impoverished families.

Harry S. Truman appointed Roosevelt as a United Nations delegate in 1946. In this role, she became a driving force behind the U.N.’s Declaration of Human Rights, which over 50 member-states eventually worked together to compose.