Playwright Catherine Trieschmann has been living and writing in Hays, Kansas, for the last five years. But her newest play, How the World Began, which will premiere on SCR’s Julianne Argyros Stage on Sept. 25, is her first play about Kansas.
In it, she tells the story of Susan Pierce, a new biology teacher from New York who moves to the small town of Plainview to teach in the wake of a devastating tornado. Susan says, “Haven’t you ever looked at photographs after a tsunami or an earthquake half-way across the world and thought, if only I could do something? Wouldn’t it be great to go to bed at the end of the day, tired and used up, knowing you actually helped people?”
|Greensburg, Kansas following a F-5 Tornado in 2007.|
Susan moved to Plainview to lend a hand—and to start a new life. But she is an outsider in this small, farming town, and unprepared for the firestorm that will erupt after she makes a careless comment while teaching the origins of life.
When student Micah Staab, a devout Christian, takes offense and confronts Susan, she at first denies having made the comment, then tries to explain that she was talking about early non-scientific beliefs that had nothing to do with God. But Micah feels disrespected, and when Susan refuses to apologize, his guardian Gene gets involved. Gene Hinkle is the town’s garrulous ex-postmaster, and soon everyone in town believes that Susan is an evolutionary zealot. The town gossip leads to building pressure that threatens to dismantle Susan’s new life and vocation.
Trieschmann’s drama subtly explores the hot-button topics of creationism and evolution—as they’re taught (or not taught) in modern classrooms today—through the prism of three character’s strongly held personal beliefs. It’s a character-driven play about faith, connection and the innate prejudices people sometimes have toward beliefs different from their own.
|Jarrett Sleeper, Kirsten Potter and Joe Spano in rehearsal for the 2011|
Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of How the World Began.
How the World Began was presented in a reading during SCR’s 2011 Pacific Playwrights Festival and is being produced in association with Women’s Project Theater in New York. Daniella Topol is directing both the SCR production and the one at Women’s Project, which will produce the play in January 2012. How the World Began will have its European premiere at Out of Joint Theatre in London this fall.