Taking Center Stage
Published: October 17, 2013
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It started as a capstone playwriting project for Rachel Luann Strayer's Master of Fine Arts from Wilkes University, now her vision is about to come to life.
Strayer is a Clarks Summit resident who, along with her husband, Jonathan, runs Ghostlight Productions, which is best known for its annual "Shakespeare in the Park" production at South Abington Park. On Thursday, Oct. 17, the Strayers will be in San Francisco, California, to watch "Drowning Ophelia" debut as the inaugural production of the Repurposed Theatre at the Mojo Theatre Space.
"Drowning Ophelia" tells the story of Jane, a woman who was sexually abused by her brother, Adam. The character of Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet appears in Jane's bathtub and the characters interact throughout the play.
"It is not clear in the beginning, and I don't want it to be, that the play is about abuse," Strayer explained. "You know that Jane does not have a good relationship with her brother, that he is trying to contact her and she won't connect with him."
Strayer explained that the viewers realize that Jane's brother, Adam, has passed away in the interactions with him are memory sequences.
"The play's question became rather than, 'how does Jane forgive her brother?' to 'how do you process or deal with something like this when reconciling with the actual person isn't an option?' Strayer said. "I wanted to use the extremeness that a situation like death causes because it helps clarify that she can't deal with him directly. I think in a lot of situations in abuse, even with someone that is part of your family, there are a lot of women out there that cannot deal with their abuser directly, even if they are alive and it is not a viable option. Sometimes you have to figure out how to move on when you can't forgive them."
While in California, Strayer will also participate in a playwright discussion series along with director Ellery Schaar.
"I chose to produce Drowning Ophelia because it deals with a type of abuse that is rarely talked about or shared and because it isn't talked about leaves the afflicted sometimes suffering their whole lives with no absolution," Schaar said. "In Rachel's play we see Jane manifest her own absolution and there is power in that."
"Drowning Ophelia" will run Thursday-Saturday, from Oct. 17 through Nov. 2, at 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.repurposedtheatre.com.