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Owl Answers, The - Short Play, Drama

Owl Answers, The

Adrienne Kennedy

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Short Play, Drama

7m, 3f

ISBN: 9780816636037

An African-American girl dreams of establishing a heritage and imagines she is applying to bury her father in Westminster Cathedral.

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Rental Materials | Author | Reviews
$20.00
Adrienne Kennedy Reader

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Minimum Fee: $45 per performance


Description

Short Play

Drama

Experimental

40 minutes

Settings Of Play - A New York subway is the Tower of London is a Harlem hotel room is St. Peter's

FEATURES / CONTAINS

No intermission

Interior Set

Elaborate / High Volume Costumes

CAUTIONS

Intense Adult Themes

TARGET AUDIENCE

Adult, Senior, Teen (Age 14 - 18)

PERFORMANCE GROUP

College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

RECOGNITION / AWARDS

Obie

An African-american girl dreams of establishing a heritage and imagines she is applying to bury her father in Westminster Cathedral. The chorus enters. Ann Boleyn, Shakespeare, and William the Conqueror scorn her: whoever heard of a black with such a heritage? Her father was white, she protests, and her mother was his family's cook. As a child she had to enter through the back door when she wanted to visit him. A companion piece to Kennedy's revolutionary Funnyhouse of a Negro.
The Owl Answers was first presented by Lucille Lortel at The White Barn Theatre in Westport, Connecticut, in 1965. It was directed by Michael Kahn.
Characters

CASTING

7m, 3f

CASTING ATTRIBUTES

Expandable casting, Multicultural casting, Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

CASTING NOTES

The characters change slowly back and forth into and out of themselves, leaving some garment from their previous selves upon them always to remind us of the nature of She who is Clara Passmore who is the Virgin Mary who is the Bastard who is the Owl's world.

CHORUS SIZE

N/A (Not a musical)

SHE - who is Clara Passmore, who is the Virgin Mary, who is the Bastard, who is the Owl
BASTARD'S BLACK MOTHER - who is the Reverend's Wife, who is Anne Boleyn
GODDAM FATHER - who is the Richest White Man In The Town, who is the Dead White Father, who is Reverend Passmore
THE WHITE BIRD - who is Reverend Passmore's Canary, who is God's Dove
THE NEGRO MAN
SHAKESPEARE
CHAUCER
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR
Rental Materials

MUSICAL STYLE

N/A (Not a musical)

VOCAL DEMANDS

N/A (Not a musical)

Author
Adrienne Kennedy

Adrienne Kennedy

Adrienne Kennedy continues to influence the world through her art. She was the recipient of the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, an Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lila Wallace—Reader's Digest Writers' Award and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Literature Award. She was also granted a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing, awarded ... view full profile

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Reviews
Alyson Fortner 4/29/2013 11:22 AM
The main character of Adrienne Kenney’s The Owl Answers is SHE who is CLARA PASSMORE who is the VIRGIN MARY who is the BASTARD who is the OWL who throughout the play interacts with different representations of her parents, popular English historical figures, and a bird character. Almost all of the characters also have multiple labels that allude to their identities’ multiplicity. Kennedy complicates the setting in a similar way by defining it as a location that embodies many places at once, for example: The NYC Subway, St. Peter’s (chapel?), a Harlem hotel room, and the Tower of London.

As the play layers on both the setting and the characters’ signifiers, the dialogue and action centers around She who is’ longing to visit her dead father. The parent figures of She who is constantly change costumes, use different names to refer to her, and question She who is’ ancestors.  Race, gender, and class are brought into the layering of the multiple identities as She who is goes through the mysterious world of the play. White and black masks are heavily used throughout emphasizing the duality of her biracial background. The action is tense and filled with stage revolutions and light changes—enhancing the chaos and confusion within each shift of the setting and characters’ manifestation of the given moment.

The play ends in a fiery scene where She who is falls into the burning altar of St. Peter’s Chapel and possibly dies. No matter the logistical details of the ending, this play presents a carefully constructed quest dealing with identity—defined by names, race, gender, class, and religion. It challenges theatrical conventions of character and setting while exploring deep thematic questions allowing a production to be both an intellectual and visceral experience.

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