WE BELIEVE IN THEATER AS MEDICINE
We Believe Individual Healing & Transformation
Is the Required First Step
For Social Healing & Transformation
HOW MUCH OF OUR PERSONAL & POLITICAL IDENTITY IS GUIDED BY FORCES BEYOND OUR OWN FREEWILL?
Set in 1974, IMAGINARY GIRL: The Occupation of Patty Hearst responsibly interprets the political kidnapping of 19-year-old Patty Hearst. After being held captive in a closet for 57 days, she emerges declaring her new identity as Tania and her “choice” to join her kidnappers' mission to overthrow the US government.
As her unbelievable ordeal unfolds, it is dissected, distorted and exploited by The Media, and holds the world spellbound as Patty changes from an innocent victim into a fugitive outlaw right in front of our eyes.
This play's real-life TRUE STORY centers on A STRONG COMPLEX FEMALE PROTAGONIST who eventually discovers she is the only one who can save herself.
IDENTITY & TRAUMA
The play's unique underlying subject matter – THE FLUIDITY OF IDENTITY required to survive extreme trauma, including trauma-bonding and identification with violent perpetrators – speaks to the psychological and spiritual dilemmas of survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, military combat, extremist religious and political cults, and human trafficking.
The play examines how the Media, the criminal-justice/incarceration, and the mental health system misinterpret, exploit, and compound the suffering of trauma victims – while the central character models survivorship, hope, and healing.
WHAT MAKES THIS HISTORY PLAY
RELEVANT TO TODAY
THESE NEW TIMES cry out for NEW forms of STORYTELLING & STAGING.
In the same way the 1960s didn’t start until after Kennedy’s assassination, and the 1970s didn’t really begin until after Watergate, the 21st century is only just-now starting, as we push into its 3rd decade, leaving the PRE-Trump and PRE-Covid epoch behind.
In this still-uncertain century, it falls upon ALL OF US IN THE ARTS to produce New Works that answer the question:
“WHO ARE WE NOW?”
IMAGINARY GIRL takes-on a newly-emerging 21st century theme:
The Disintegration of Consensus Reality:
The end of our once-universal & once-dependable shared reality.
This theme is illuminated BEYOND the identity-confusion of the play’s central character.
IMAGINARY GIRL reveals:
How our identities are shaped far beyond our expectations by social pressures, including the news media.
How our personal and political allegiances can compel us to support agendas against our own best interests.
How ALL conflicts – internal, interpersonal, and political – are battles of competing narratives / BATTLES OF COMPETING VERSIONS OF REALITY.
The Younger Characters’ Songs: Anchored in the folk & rock of the play’s time period – the mid-1970s – a genre that still echoes through the indie/alt folk & rock of today. These songs incorporate a wide-range of additional influences, e.g., funk and soul, shoe-gaze/slowcore, and 19th century spirituals.
The Parents’ Songs: To acknowledge the 1970s "generation gap" these older characters’ songs dip into more traditional 20th century musical theater motifs.
The Container Score: Outside and beyond the 1970s storyworld, a larger wrap-around Container Score uses sophisticated 21st century electronic composition ─ an emotive synthesis of sonic textures, serialism, experimental post-rock, and sound collage.
IMAGINARY GIRL was conceived while working as the principal editor of The Alchemy of Wolves and Sheep* by Dr. H. L. Schwartz. This book makes a significant contribution to the psychological trauma literature illuminating “brainwashing” “internalized perpetration” and “identification with the aggressor” along with the dynamics of how trauma victims are manipulated into betraying their own moral limits.
An internationally acknowledged expert on PTSD, and with a career dedicated to the treatment of survivors of complex trauma, Dr. Schwartz continues to serve as the play's psychological consultant.
( * Winner of the prestigious 2017 International Sandor Ferenczi Prize, from ISST&D:
The International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation )
INCLUSIVE CAST & TEAM
Although the race and gender of the historical characters are fixed, ANY performer may portray ANY role. For example, in this “alternative identity musical” the role of Randolph Hearst, Patty’s father, could be played by a Norm Lewis- or a Wayne Brady-type (Black). Or, the doubling role of Walter Cronkite and F. Lee Bailey could be played by a Rosie O’Donnell- or a Cherry Jones-type (female). Or the role of Catherine Hearst could be played by an Alexandra Billings- or an Eddie Izzard-type (transgender person).
Each character’s role (for the most part) can/should/must be cast without the obligation to conform to a character’s historical race, gender or LGBTQ+ identity.
COMEDY in the midst of TRAGEDY
While never being glib or camp – and even though it seems unlikely – the show strategically utilizes a great deal of absurdity/humor/comedy.
Crafted as an emotionally compelling theatrical experience for a diverse range of audiences – including non-traditional theatergoers, i.e., the NEXT generation of engaged audience members needed to sustain theater into the new century – this all-original independently-developed musical play is constructed as a multi-leveled-narrative that’s RIPE FOR INNOVATIVE STORYTELLING / STAGING.
Ultimately, IMAGINARY GIRL is an inspiring & uplifting story of survival, self-discovery and self-liberation, as its historic female protagonist triumphantly overcomes seemingly impossible internal & external obstacles.
This Musical History Play Reveals How
– INTERNAL, INTERPERSONAL, AND POLITICAL –
ARE BATTLES OF COMPETING VERSIONS OF REALITY
SYNTHESIZING: INSTINCT VISION VOICE EMOTION & MEANING
IMAGINARY GIRL: The Occupation of Patty Hearst – book, lyrics & music © 2020 Leonard Dolivio Cetrangolo