Bodies of Water

May 25th – June 9th I was in Pittsburgh, PA for The Body of Water Residency : Experimenting with Form in Playwriting. As a group ( there were fifteen of us ) we experimented with developing a playwriting methodology based on bodies of water. The end of the residency culminated with the presentation of our individual works in progress. 


Instruction given to viewers:

Throughout the reading you are invited to merge in and out of the space that I am holding here on the tarp. I will be reading from a collection of my experiences with the Tijuana Estuary located at the border between San Diego ( where I am from) and Mexico. Feel free to sit with me and listen closely or to view the monitor with where the tides of the  river mouth are on a loop.

I begin reading from a collection of research materials, journal entries, and emails that will be source material for a script in process.


Estuary – where the river meets the Sea. An estuary is a coastal wetland where freshwater that flows from rivers and streams mixes with the saltwater from the ocean.


The second time I visited,  I walked towards the pier and there was a young guy chatting up a fisherman with a line cast out at the farthest end. This guy had an iguana on his shoulder. I could not help myself from being pulled into his conversation and I slowly dropped myself into it.


Tijuana Estuary is made up of freshwater from the Tijuana River that connects with the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean creating a large wetland habitat dominated by low lying vegetation known as a salt marsh. This connection of waters happens at the river mouth, and because of it, the water level in the estuary rises and falls with the ocean tides.


This was in December, during the time that the sewage pipes broke for over a week and they stopped counting the gallons of sewage that were being released by the hour into the ocean.  Being out there in the middle of it, you could feel something was wrong. This guy was some kind of prophet. He spoke for the ocean. He spoke of morning, of grief, he described the process the ocean was taking to clean itself. The angry chopping and churning of water against water and into sand over and over again. This is a couple of days before my mother would pass, though I did not know this yet. I could feel the heaviness, the weight on my heart. A premonition. Without realizing it, I was mourning too. And this would become my spot that I would return to again and again in the next couple of months.


The Tijuana Estuary is an intact system with extensive marsh vegetation and is open to tidal flushing This helps alleviate the pollution problem.

The salt marsh is a very resilient ecosystem (it actually filters out much of the sewage) and remains fairly stable.


Over my shoulder as I read on, I could feel the presence and company of those I shared the past two weeks with, my fellow writers and our new friends at the Community Forge in Wilkinsburg, PA.

The Honeycomb Collection: a wearable sculpture

Inspired by the Bee Poems of Sylvia Plath

The Bee Meeting

Who are these people at the bridge to meet me?  They are the villagers –
The rector, the midwife, the sexton, the agent for bees.
In my sleeveless summery dress I have no protection,
And they are all gloved and covered, why did nobody tell me?
They are smiling and taking out veils tacked to ancient hats.

I am nude as a chicken neck, does nobody love me?
Yes, here is the secretary of bees with her white shop smock
Buttoning the cuffs at my wrists and the slit from my neck to my knees.
Now I am milkweed silk, the bees will not notice.
They will not smell my fear, my fear, my fear.

Which is the rector now, is it that man in black?
Which is the midwife, is that her blue coat?
Everybody is nodding a square black head, they are knights in visors,
Breastplates of cheesecloth knotted under the armpits.
Their smiles and their voices are changing.  I am led through a beanfield.

Strips of tinfoil winking like people,
Feather dusters fanning their hands in a sea of bean flowers,
Creamy bean flowers with black eyes and leaves like bored hearts.
Is it blood clots the tendrils are dragging up that string?
No, no, it is scarlet flowers that will one day be edible.

Now they are giving me a fashionable white straw Italian hat
And a black veil that molds to my face, they are making me one of them.
They are leading me to the shorn grove, the circle of hives.
Is it the hawthorn that smells so sick?
The barren body of hawthorn, etherizing its children.

Is it some operation that is taking place?
Is it the surgeon my neighbors are waiting for,
This apparition in a green helmet,
Shining gloves and white suit.
Is it the butcher, the grocer, the postman, someone I know?

Smoke rolls and scarves in the grove.
The mind of the hive thinks this is the end of everything.
Here they come, the outriders, on their hysterical elastics.
If I stand very still, they will think I am cow-parsley,
A gullible head untouched by their animosity,

I cannot run, I am rooted, and the gorse huts me
With its yellow purses, its spiky armory.
I could not run without having to run forever.
The white hive is snug as a virgin,
Sealing off her brood cells, her honey, and quietly humming.

Not even nodding, a personage in a hedgerow.
The villagers open the chambers, they are hunting the queen.
Is she hiding, is she eating honey?  She is very clever.
She is old, old, old, she must live another year, and she knows it.
While in their fingerjoint cells the new virgins

Dream of a duel they will win inevitably,
A curtain of wax dividing them from the bride flight,
The upflight of the murderess into a heaven that loves her.
The villagers are moving the virgins, there will be no killing.
The old queen does not show herself, is she so ungrateful?

I am exhausted, I am exhausted –
Pillar of white in a blackout of knives.
I am the magician’s girl who does not flinch.
The villagers are untying their disguises, they are shaking hands.
Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished, why am I cold.

By Sylvia Plath, 3rd October 1962

She Blooms

I hold the stump of a plant
succulent cuttings
a scattering of dry dirt
terra cotta pot
not too special, nothing really
received on X-Mas Day
Instructed to
BETTER water it
Blessed rain
She blooms
She Blooms!

Desperate Characters in process

At the moment I find myself working on a farm and I have a live/work space that resembles the skeleton of an old barn. If I apply a little imagination, my current residence is not unlike the bones of the abandoned farm houses that populate Mercer County, Missouri, home of my pioneer ancestors.

Serendipitously, a friend from the farm introduced me to the musician, Clint Davis. I shared the names, date, places and faces that I had excavated from the bottom of an old box my mother inherited from her mother. Clint is from Kentucky and felt a genuine affinity for the stories of the people’s lives I was beginning to unravel. Clint’s select picks from his extensive catalogue in Americana music filled in the narrative of the script.

While I began sculpting the puppets and sets for the dioramas Clint also worked on composing original music for his band to play and record. Images and music: a dialogue had begun and a new collaborative process was born!

The sets are built on carts that wheel in and out of the performance space
The diorama for the opening scene in DCMC
Out front of S4A
The work studio of my loft will soon transform in a theatre space
Here I am in the loft looking down on the performance space below