This play is entitled, "Woman on the Scarlet Beast," and is the story of a short period of time in the lives of these three women--"Dulce," a loving and doting mother and grandmother; her strong willed daughter, "Ruby," who feels very few of the choices she's made during her life need to be excused; and her daughter, "Jennifer," who is struggling to be free from the guilt, denial and manipulation of her well intentioned grandmother and cancer ridden mother. Each one wants desperately to love and be loved. The play is currently being performed at the Post5 Theatre in Sellwood, OR. The performances have been masterfully directed and skillfully performed by cast members who have, in a most profound and subtle way, brought back to life these three women and two of the men in their lives at the time the story took place. But there's so much more to this play than the performance alone.
The young teacher, Caroline Miller, has grown and found success in various professional careers, including that of an author. It was this love of writing that kept her working with this script over the past 30 years, sometimes on her own, sometimes with help from other professional authors, playwrights, mentors and friends. Having heard many of the discussions that took place in this home with her three neighbors, she saw their dialogue in 3-dimension and as a play rather than as a novel and knew this would be the literary form she would choose to share the experiences of these women. But as she stated recently, "writing a play is different from reading a play, analyzing a play or watching a play." Some things one would expect to read in a novel have no place in a script. For instance, unlike a reader, an audience doesn't have to be told that one is going to the kitchen to get a drink--they can see that's what is happening. It took a few years of rewrites, tweaks, submissions, and rejections, but with each revision and learning experience her confidence in her script grew. Then, as fate would have it, early last year and at the suggestion of a friend, she contacted a local theater director and soon, a contract was made to perform her play. But a contract is just another beginning.
There would be interviews with the director, and readings, doubts requiring healthy doses of courage and optimism, concerns mixed with moments of elation and joy--I can only imagine how it would feel to have one's characters previously known only through words on paper, be lifted to life through the magic spun by skilled actors. There would still be a revision, or two, fine tuning, and purposeful rewrites driven by new insights. Then, under the watchful eye of the director there would be auditions, characters once again, coming to life as actors assumed their roles, random pairings of actors to determine 'chemistry' and cast choices, An Iago-type villain would be needed and faith that the director would find a cast that would meld. Following on the heels of auditions would come rehearsals, time spent perfecting intonations, facial expressions, gestures, cues, and lines. Only after weeks of preparation would the curtain be ready to rise on this play, written so long ago, only blocks away from where it would be performed--in the actual Catholic church building where "Dulce," a devout Catholic woman, had worshipped 50 years earlier.
For every playwright one of the goals of writing a play is to have his or her play published so that theaters everywhere will have an opportunity to perform it on their stage. To be honest, I don't know what the future holds in store for this play. I do know that "Woman on the Scarlet Beast" is a relevant, timeless story that many of us can relate to even today. The angst of loving so hard that it hurts, dealing with the consequences of our choices, sometimes finding it nearly impossible to ask forgiveness and wanting things to be different in the lives of those whom we love are themes that have existed since the beginning of time. The common thread that binds us all together is hope and it is hope that gives us the courage to keep trying.
The remaining three performances of "Woman on the Scarlet Beast," will take place this weekend. When the curtain drops Sunday evening, I have every reason to believe this will not be the end of this beautifully written and memorable portrayal of three women struggling with forgiveness. I have no doubt, the final curtain call at Post5 Theatre will just be another beginning for this heartwarming, hopeful, and most poignant story.