If you wish to convey the idea
that I have unconsciously lied: that is one thing.
And there is a prettier and safer way to state it.
My failure, then, is just that I did not provide you evidence
on which to base your theories.
But, in consequence must I be a liar?
I am Patience Worth.
I strut to teach ye I be me.
IMAGES FROM DEVELOPMENTAL WORKSHOPS AT THE ADVANCED COMPUTING CENTER FOR ARTS AND DESIGN AT OSU
Pearl Curran lived an unremarable life in early twentieth century St Louis until she encountered Patience Worth, a seventeenth century woman desperate to speak through her as a medium.
Over the course of two decades, hyperverbal Patience dictated millions of words in books, poems, and plays through Pearl’s Ouija board and ultimately through Pearl’s own voice. She (which?) also held conversations with visitors in her home and crowds of spectators in parlors across the nation. But then: Patience carried on a love affair with a local newspaper editor while Pearl demurred that she was merely the transporting vessel. And then: Patience adopted a child, while childless Pearl was delighted to caretake. Oh and: books written by Patience were published by Pearl’s husband, John.
Plumbing the rich archival holdings of the Missouri Historical Society, Patience Worth asks: explores fragmented identity, a nagging desire for fame, and the limits of credulity.
IMAGES FROM PRODUCTION AT KRANZBERG CENTER, ST LOUIS
Patience Worth was developed in staged reading at Available Light Theatre (Columbus, OH) in January 2014 and at Tristan Bates Theatre (London, UK) in August 2013. In January 2015, Schlueter was awarded a grant to develop an immersive projection environment for the piece at the Motion Capture Lab at the Advanced Computing Center for Arts and Design. It was also supported by a grant from the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Patience Worth premiered March 9-12, 2017 at the Kranzberg Arts Center in St. Louis, Missouri and was remounted at the Barnett Theatre in Columbus Ohio May 19-20, 2017.
Written by Jennifer Schlueter
Directed by Jennifer Schlueter and Sarah Ware
Featuring Emily Bach, Christina Ritter, Mandy Fox, Christopher Roche, and Kevin McClatchy
Production Stage Manager: Sheree L. Greco
Animations and Projection Design: Vita Berezina-Blackburn
Projections Design and Development: John Luna
Scenic Design: Brad Steinmetz
Costume Design: Kristine Kearney
Sound Design and Composition: Caitlyn Trevor
Lighting Design: Eric Elz and Sarah Lawler
ABOUT THE PLAY
In keeping with the for/word company’s creative technique, Patience Worth is built out of material written by and about its central characters, including Pearl Curran’s “Rosa Alvaro,” Irene Hickman’s I Knew Patience Worth, Emily Grant Hutchings’s Where Do We Go From Here?, Irving Litvag’s Singer in the Shadows, Walter Prince’s The Case of Patience Worth, William Marion Reedy’s “My Flirtation With Patience Worth,” Daniel B. Shea’s Patience of Pearl, Casper Yost’s Patience Worth: A Psychic Mystery, and the extensive Pearl Curran/Patience Worth collection at the Missouri Historical Society.
For more information about the process of building this play, read my essay in Theatre Survey. For more information on Pearl Curran, read Gioia Diliberto’s Smithsonian Magazine article.