Senses and Sorrows: Notes from the Director

The play, Senses and Sorrows, is not an ordinary dramatic venture. This three-woman show is made up entirely of the words of Elizabeth Bacon Custer. Lines have not been added for further explanation. Sentences have not been rewritten for dramatic effect. Rather, the lines of the play have been taken from letters, diary entries, speeches, and passages from two of her three books, enabling "Libbie" herself to tell her story in her own words.

As I sifted through stacks of letters, diary passages and quotes that spanned the gamut of her adult life, what emerged was the fascinating evolution of a young girl to a hardened, courageous plainswoman and, finally, to an embittered, almost fanatical widow. Each stage of Libbie's life was so captivating that I couldn't resist the urge to draw all three together in one show.

At about the time I graduated from college, I thought back to the tremulous time just prior to my leaving high school and moving to an unknown city. I remembered how frightened I was about the whole prospect. I wished that there could have been a way that I could have traveled back in time so that my 22-year-old "self" could sit down and talk with my 18-year-old "self ' and assure her that yes, she would make friends and yes, she would love her new home just as much as the old one. It was out of this concept that the premise of Senses and Sorrows was born.

I asked myself what would happen if Libbie at the age of 19, Libbie at the age of 33, and Libbie at the age of 43 could be brought together to tell their story collectively and to share memories. This is not a memory play of the Our Town genre. The oldest Libbie is not remembering years past while the other two Libbies act out the events in the background. What I am attempting to present goes beyond that. What Libbie I (and for convenience I'll give them numbers), is experiencing firsthand has become a memory for Libbies II and III. Consequently, each Libbie will view the same event in a different manner.

Alison Dunn, Robin Johnson,Lisa Stephenson