Far Away

Written bY CARYL CHURCHILL | Directed by Dan Shanahan

February 16 -March 11, 2018
At the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle
612 Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo NY 14212

Directors Notes

Caryl Churchill is a playwright of economy. She has an acute understanding for the lyricism of everyday language and with precision she uses only the most necessary of words to articulate the largest of ideas. She provides almost no stage directions and very brief descriptions of setting and character:

Joan is a “girl”

The first act takes place in “Harper’s house. Night”

Act Two: “Several years later. A hat makers”

Act Three: ”Several years later. Harper’s house, daytime”

The script for Far Away resembles a relief for what could be a vast epic of 20th and 21st century turmoil. The particulars of culture, geography, and exposition have been erased, leaving only a system at the root of the turmoil.

For Churchill, this system is one of economy; it is, in her words “un-cracked capitalism.”  Individual pursuits, privatization, and fetishized consumerism have boxed out the collective clan. The characters in the first act occupy a comfortably remote house in a well-maintained rural suburb. They have benefited from the system and have the tokens to prove it. Should we have constructed a set with specific detail we might have included an interior with mid-century modern furniture, a woman in a Ralph Lauren house-coat, and a late model Volvo in the drive. These characters are far removed from the sacrifices and sufferings that brought them these amenities. We might assume that their moral starting point in life was just fine. That they have worked hard for what they have. In time they had to protect what was theirs – who wouldn’t?  They had to eliminate any risk of intrusion – you can’t be threatened all day.  And they created stories – we all need our own myths to fall asleep to –”To feel we are on the side of the ‘right’.”

Churchill presents three systems that resemble, first: a comfortable interior with plenty of blankets; second, a manufacturing firm concerned with aesthetics and execution; and then finally, a no-man’s land where all is divided. Each space is separated by a ‘few years.’ The characters move through these spaces, first attempting to maintain a feeling of stability; next focusing on one’s own personal failures and successes, unable to perform heroics; and then barely able to maintain one’s own life. The economics provided the characters a moral framework, providing rewards, and enemies, corruption and loyalties, providing something to aspire to and something to defend.

But in the pursuit of a complete individualism, the house begins to shift, design begins to collapse, and soon you don’t know what side the crocodiles are on.

– Dan Shanahan, Director