December 1559. Night. The sound of waves against a ship. The play begins with SOFONISBA, 27, on a ship that is taking her from Cremona, Italy, to Barcelona, Spain.
SOFONISBA: O Mamma the fish the fish they shine in the sea like stars that blind the moon, and they are so big, and if I tried to paint them for you I would surely lose them and if you were here Mamma, if you were here I…
Thank you to everyone who made this workshop production possible, and to all the wonderful audience members who have seen it. We were sold out last night with a waiting list, so tonight is your last chance to see it at 7:30pm.
I'm filled with gratitude toward everyone at Dramatic Repertory Company, and all of the designers, crew, and actors: Heidi Kendrick, Michaela Wirth, Meg Anderson, Mnemosyne Heileman, Abigail Killeen, Marjolaine Whittlesey, Sean Ramey, and especially Keith Powell Beyland, Vanessa WInfield Beyland, and Sally Wood.
It's been such a gift to finally see this play that I've worked on for 8 years on its feet. (I'm learning that 4 to 8 years is my norm on a play, with a lot of that time being seasoning.) I've learned so much about how the play operates from this workshop, and I've discovered new questions to explore in the script, which is always exciting. There's a sly feminism that I'm still curious about, that comes from how Sofonisba both covered and revealed herself and her portrait subjects, and our modern assumptions we bring to the play. I'm determined to grow this play into its fullest expression and then send it wholeheartedly out into the world, where I hope it finds a wide audience. We've had so many art and history scholars in the audiences, and I've loved all of the post-show conversations and emails full of energy and heart for this story.
The woman who inspired this play, Sofonisba Anguissola, was born nearly 500 years ago. When I first encountered her portraits in college, they stirred me in that unnameable way when art resonates with you in a deep thrill. Her story is one of strength, talent, steadiness, and success. She had a long, illustrious career unmarked by scandal. For all my years of research and curiosity, she remains elusive.
I wonder what she would think about people hundreds of years later responding to her story with standing ovations.