Difficult families, bad behavior and spiders by Morag Shepherd.
Throughout my life, sometimes the only way for me to exit a difficult experience is to psychologically die to—let go of—that event, that person. I mean, one doesn’t have to do anything, but it seems to me the best option is to let the past die, and then move forward.
Impulses connected to death and dying play on repeat in my play Not One Drop. These impulses create a metaphorical pathway into the inner battles of its two characters, Rowe (who is a little younger) and Aidan (who is a little older). They push, because sometimes people shove; they scratch, because sometimes people wound us; and they stumble, because people usually fall.
I could connect dots and lines between Aidan and Rowe and my own life, but the truth is, the play almost wrote itself, and went where it wanted to go. I sat down with the idea of writing a play about two characters, and then the words that they wanted to say…happened. That’s how I write. If I have an end goal in mind, then the whole thing is a battle and it usually doesn’t turn out.
The impetus for creating Rowe and Aidan was to inhabit a relationship so closely connected and intertwined, that the people involved slip into and eventually become the other person. They trade clothes; they speak the line that the other person normally would, or has, because doesn’t that happen sometimes?
Sometimes we are(n’t) who we think we are.
Throughout Not One Drop, the very nature of relationships is constantly shifting and slipping—are they sisters, friends, lovers, enemies?—and ultimately it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they have grown so close that they slip into each other’s identities. They mirror each other and then their identities, at times, mirror back on themselves.
Aidan and Rowe have grown so entwined that they take codependence to new lows. The underside of love—hate—at times envelopes them. Love and closeness becomes the catalyst for a violence that permeates their relationship. But it’s also a violence inherited from their separate and shared childhood, a part of their lives—together and separately—that is inescapable. That doesn’t stop them from repeatedly trying to escape this violence by making up and acting out scenes, scenarios that are weird and strange and funny. Because, at times, don’t we all want to forget who and where we are?
Not One Drop also plays around with the way one’s story—or non-story—behaves. Instead of the typical Aristotelian structure, I wanted to write a play in the shape of a water drop. Rather than building to a dramatic climax, the characters descend into ever more absurdity, where the chance of words that rhyme, or sound the same, rule and govern behavior.
Not One Drop is absurd in the true theatrical sense because life is absurd, or certainly that’s been my experience. Sometimes cause and effect play out in a seamless line of logic, and sometimes life events are random and tenuous and all one can do is laugh.
Morag Shepherd’s NOT ONE DROP is the current recipient of the Plan-B Theatre grant from The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists. It receives its world premiere March 23-April 2 at Plan-B, featuring Colleen Baum and Latoya Rhodes, directed by Jerry Rapier. Visit planbtheatre.org for details and tickets.