Monday, April 6, 2015


Play #86 - Parkersburg by Laura Jacqmin

1, 2, and 3 are coal miners, stationed deep in a nearly dry mine. It's been a long time since any of them has hit a vein, and the foreman is getting restless. She tells the miners (also all women) that they had better hit coal, or they're all fired. This seems unreasonable, since they can't control whether or not there's coal here, but that's the ultimatum, nonetheless. While they dig, 3 talks a bit about her old job, while 1 & 2 prefer either not to talk, or to talk about Parkersburg - a mining town up north where the hours and conditions are good. It's a miner's idea of paradise. Suddenly, after 1 & 2 join hands to pray (or cast a spell?), 3 strikes coal. Unfortunately, at this same moment, they realize that the canary with them in the mine has stopped singing. 2 attempts to run out, but they are far too deep. 1 & 3 stay behind, hoping that the discovery of the coal by their dead bodies will mean that the company will pass on some of that money to their families. The plays with them standing together, waiting for the inevitable.

This is a sad, dark little play, but I think that stage directions Jacqmin has put in point to some really beautiful staging options. The music of the digging is important to creating this little world, to establishing the all but unending rhythm of the miners' daily lives. The fact that the characters have numbers rather than names makes them just another bunch of faceless workers who are only worth the money they can make for their employers. Their worth as human beings is nil. There's a sort of haunting poeticism to the language too, as they counter their talk of frustration and failing with their dreams of family and paradise. 

No comments:

Post a Comment