I wrote Turtles for so many reasons. Family and identity, two themes that are prominent in Turtles, mean a lot to me. Family isn't the traditional family anymore; mine certainly isn't. I wrote what family is like for me. And I was raised in southern Ohio, oddly, a liminal place in the United States that acted as a crossroads during the westward expansion and the Great Migration. It's a place that's not North, South, East, or West, so some people--me, for instance--know a lot about having to stake out your spot in the world.
I wrote the play because I wanted to write something that actually reflected the world I lived in--a play that I felt was relevant for the times. I am so tired of seeing plays that still focus on middle-class values. The middle class is in tatters in the United States. The social structure in the United States is in transition and we, as artists, should acknowledge that. I'm not saying that Turtles portrays the way life is in the United States. That's journalism. In the end, Turtles is simply a story about a woman trying to find her in the world.
And I'm tired of going to plays in Boston and seeing predominantly white casts when there's no reason for the characters to be portrayed by white people, and when there are so many talented non-white actors in Boston. Turtles' cast is intentionally mulit-ethnic.
And, I wrote this play because there aren't enough strong female voices in the theater, and an actress challenged me to write a play with strong women. In Turtles there are five actresses playing multiple roles including the male roles. I wrote Turtles so women could express what it's like to be told by a man that you're no good, or the actresses could tell their story about being hit on because you have a flat tire by the side of the road and he perceives you as being helpless, and he'll fix your flat if you'll fix his. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)
I'll be blogging more about Turtles. Please write with your comments and thoughts. We'd love to hear from you.