Blood Memory

Memory comes before knowledge.” – Eber Hampton

"You were humming like something lightening'd struck alive." The Redhead (Gabrielle DeBrequette) and Gowdie (Bryn Booth) tell dreams in a blocking rehearsal for The Love Talker

"You were humming like something lightening'd struck alive."
The Redhead (Gabrielle DeBrequette) and Gowdie (Bryn Booth) tell dreams in a blocking rehearsal for The Love Talker

In the past few weeks as we’ve embarked on our collective journey into Two Plays for Lost Souls, I’ve been struck by how innately everyone in the room has seemed to just know these plays. For one thing, our actors are brilliant, and the talent and fearlessness in the room is a joy to encounter every day. But after our last table read, as the team worked to unpack The Love Talker, one phrase just kept swimming through my mind with each discovery:

Blood memory.

Blood memory is that innate knowledge we all possess at birth, something in us that recognizes some of the life that our ancestors knew. It’s our physical and spiritual connection to ancestral cultures, languages, songs, loves, fears, and losses—our bodily knowledge of the past. In the scientific world, this is known as “genetic memory.” Studies on mice have shown that after being trained to fear specific smells, genetic descendants demonstrate an extreme aversion to those same smells despite having never encountered them, leading scientists to speculate that neurological disorders such as phobias, anxieties, depression, and post-traumatic stress are genetically inherited. A parent’s traumas and triumphs are passed down to their children in their DNA, just like eye color and height. 

The women in these plays—isolated in colonial mansions on hereditary estates and battered familial homes in the Appalachian hollows—are haunted by conditions they know, but cannot explain, nor fully understand. The young women in The Love Talker are haunted by old world spirits—forces clinging to the backs of ancestral migrants who themselves mixed blood with those carrying ancient knowledge imported from other old worlds far and wide. Here, the weight of centuries worth of heartbreak across enormous geographic expanses rests on our shoulders. Here, we are born tired. 

But, we are also born resilient. Bred with the capacity to change our stories. To act.

I have always been drawn to theater because, like many artists, I feel at home around people who ‘speak my language.’ Theater is a communal art; in it we find and share a common language—one where a look in an actor’s eye, a gesture, the swell in a musical phrase, or a subtle light cue can convey whole histories of meaning to people who have never even seen a play. We understand it because it just… ‘works.’ Perhaps it isn’t just our ability to relate that connects us to Gowdie and Bun, but a deep and ancient knowledge—passed across millennia from parent to child and child to parent, from actor to audience and audience to actor—of how it feels to be alive on this earth. How it has always felt. 

And what it might mean to go off the path and feel something new…

I cannot wait to explore these plays, to watch them grow, and to share them with our audiences. They tell us so much about what it means to be alive, to be human interlopers in a world of ancient knowledge and wisdom. To be here, now, with each other. And, perhaps, what we might do next.

--Leah Taylor
Assistant Director, Two Plays for Lost Souls,
September 12, 2017

Why We Tell Stories

We’ve talked a lot about what we are doing at the Scoundrel & Scamp.  Today I want to talk about why.  

In our society today, we are enamored with the distractions of glamor, of spectacle. We glance and swipe, tap to react—emotional palette pre-determined—and move on.  What was it we just experienced?

Our access to possibility is endless.  We are overwhelmed in an ever-expanding universe of ideas—and overwhelmed, our ability to think clearly, to take action, is diminishing.  We are prone to becoming immobilized.

We don’t want you to be immobilized.

The reason The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre is here is to offer an alternative way to experience the world, one that isn’t afraid to slow time down.  

Our stories will ask for your evening—and in return, we offer perspectives that will immerse your heart and challenge the mind, leaving you with experiences that will last far beyond your time with us.  

Story grows our capacity to expand and deepen understanding, compassion, the essence of our humanity. We want to explore with you how we are all connected—all of us—through our tragic flaws and our beauty. From this depth, we want you to be moved.

--Elizabeth Falcón
September 9, 2017

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First Read

On the last day of August, the cast and crew of Two Plays for Lost Souls gather to bring voice to the works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Deborah Pryor.  We sit around the table, scripts laid out in front of us and pencils notating ideas as actors read and designers voice their visions of what Lost Souls will become.  We have gathered in the conference room of the Historic Y with its mahogany floors and its 1920's southwest flavor as our theater is being renovated, our contractors racing the clock of our opening night in mid-October.

First reads are always fascinating to me, as they are always filled with awkwardness and anticipation. Like shoppers in a clothing store, we are not yet familiar with what we are trying on, excited by the newness but worried about the fit. Some of us actively stretch and play in our new garb, while others of us keep our exploration and opinions close, not interested in risking a lot quite yet. In taking our first steps as an ensemble, we still feel vulnerable.  

Yet, what I love about our first read is that I can see that each and every one of us is truly happy to be here - the feeling of 'building something' together sizzles in the room.  We are excited to be on the cusp of new creation. 

As Director, my primary goal at first read is to make sure that for our artists the excitement of new creation is nurtured and channeled towards a common vision. At this early stage, the interplay of artistry is often less about making decisions about what the play is, and more about what the play is not.  We ink in the edges of our world, but don't worry about the detail inside the lines. That comes later. Creativity works best in a "Yes...and" environment, and so our first read is filled with suggestions and encouragement. There will be time for our options to be narrowed in our weeks of rehearsal, and closing doors too quickly will prevent us from creating an experience greater than the sum of its parts. 

At one stage in our evening, our music director, John Keeney, shares an idea to have some of the characters of The Love Talker sing some lines that are normally spoken. The world of The Love Talker is a magical world after all. "Not my decision," he qualifies after he shares his idea,  "but - if I were King...". Personally I'm intrigued by the idea - not certain how we will execute it - but intrigued enough to say, "Let's explore that." And whether or not we end up choosing to go there in the end, I'm excited to be going on the journey of exploration. To try on these new ideas and shape our worlds. 

In the next few weeks I, our actors, and our designers will offer their experiences and creative vision as we journey towards the realization of Two Plays for Lost Souls.  We look forward to sharing our drawings, our stories, our music with all of you. 

--Bryan Rafael Falcón
September 4, 2017