Some plays you have to wrestle to the ground in order to get a firm grip on the story. The characters run amuck and cause chaos jumping in and out of goals. They never truly reveal what they want until the seventh, tenth, twentieth draft. Carving out a plot is like taking a dull spoon to a concrete slab. And as for inciting incidents, conflict, resolution…please, you can barely get two characters to speak to each other.
This was not the case for Rev.
Rev cruised out of me like an early Sunday morning drive on Lake Shore.
I knew these roads.
I knew the stops.
I knew where the potholes were located.
When to slow for those extreme curves.
And when to speed up to beat that red light.
I guess that is what happens when you write a play about your hometown. I grew up with these characters. I’ve known them since grade school. I graduated high school with them. I watched them get married, have children. I knew all their hopes and dreams before I even wrote their character descriptions.
Rev is a play I wrote when I was in pain and needed to do a little self-healing. I just finished rewriting one of my plays that discusses sexual assault for a production. In addition, I was coming off writing a play about toxic masculinity and how it contributes to violence against women for a workshop. Finally, to top it all off, I just wrote the ever glorious phrase, “end of play” on a new full-length that explores objectification and the viciousness of the male gaze in the adult film industry….I needed to take a breath.
Let me make one thing clear: these types of stories are necessary and must be written about and explored.
But they don’t have to be the ONLY stories.
I reminded myself of one of the core elements of my mission as a playwright: to explore the many facets of womanhood.
To be a woman means pain
But it can also mean strength
I feel that often women writers are influenced or pressured into believing that their stories only matter when their characters endure some kind of extreme trauma. That trauma is usually translated into a rape, assault, harassment, or putting her literal life on the line. I wrote Rev to prove that is not true.
I do not need to inflict violence on a women’s body to assert the importance of her life and goal.
There is value in stories about women living paycheck to paycheck trying to raise a family
women going for a promotion
women and female friendships
women falling in and out of love
women fucking up and learning (or not) from their mistakes.
women finding themselves in the pages of their family history
There is value in a woman’s smile (not just her tears) as she looks at her accomplishments, flaws, and this thing she calls life.
Men have been writing stories like this since before Shakespeare. And well, I would like it to be my turn now and help create a new cannon that truly explores EVERY facet of womanhood.
A middle class story about what makes you call a piece of land, home. Camaro Gibson loves only three things in this life: strawberry glazed donuts, her daddy, and Route 66. Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago in her daddy’s car repair shop, Camaro dreams of hitting the road. Taking historic Route 66 all the way to where the water meets the land and she’s not talking about Lake Michigan. Start in Chicago, south to Springfield, then St. Louis, cut through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and in ten days, there you are… the West Coast with the ocean at her feet. Camaro has never seen the ocean before, only in her daddy’s stories. She is determined to break out of the Southside and take him back to his home.
Camaro keeps her daddy’s heart in the repair shop: a 1967 Chevy Camaro engine. For the last ten years, since her daddy passed away, she has been trying to get that baby to rev. Today might be the day, if it wasn’t for the customers still coming in and a lot full of cars that need a lot of work. Something keeps her showing up everyday. Whether it’s the motor oil, diesel fuel, or rusty carbonators, she keeps plunging her hands in the grease because it feels like home.