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How the World Began - Full Length Play, Drama

How the World Began

Catherine Trieschmann

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Full Length Play, Drama

2m, 1f

ISBN: 9780573700583

Sharp, thoughtful and mysterious, How the World Began is a powerful story about an outsider in a close-knit, devastated community. Looking at the tension between secular religion and evolution, and how this is taught in schools, this provocative, intellig

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: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $75 per performance


Full Length Play


90 minutes

Time Period - Present Day

Settings Of Play - Plainview, Kansas - a small town in northwest Kansas. The inside of a trailer.


No intermission

Interior Set


Mild Adult Themes


Adult, Senior, Teen (Age 14 - 18)


College Theatre / Student, Community Theatre, Professional Theatre, Reader's Theatre, Shoestring Budget, Outdoor, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


From Off-Broadway

Sharp, thoughtful and mysterious, How the World Began is a powerful story about an outsider in a close-knit, devastated community. Susan, a science teacher from Manhattan, starts work in a small rural Kansas town that's been ripped apart by a tornado. When one of her pupils - the damaged, articulate Micah - takes offence at an off-the-cuff remark about how life on Earth began, Susan is thrown into an ethical firestorm about science and faith that leads to her fearing for her safety. Casting light on the tension between religion and secular liberalism, How the World Began explores the debate between creationism and evolution, and how this is taught in schools. With hints of American classics like Inherit the Wind and The Catcher in the Rye, the play traces the inexorable, fatalistic momentum from a single casual act into an all-encompassing dispute. A dispute which then threatens the very foundations of a community still reeling from a colossal disaster. In addition to its relevant and complex themes, the play is also about human psychology and what drives people to extreme ideological positions in times of duress. With writing which is provocative, moving and intelligent, Catherine Trieschmann asks important questions alongside in-depth character studies. This shrewd and compassionate drama is astute, perceptive and controversial.

"Faith and science collide in one small room, and sparks fly spectacularly in this drama..." - The London Times

“Rare and refreshing intelligence.” - The New Yorker

“Compassionately, [Trieschmann] takes pains to grant each viewpoint its share of emotional truth.” - The Village Voice

“An insightful and compassionate drama…[Trieschmann] is unafraid of portraying difficult women who make mistakes…An unusually sensitive theatrical dialogue about the nature of belief and the culture of coping.” - Time Out New York

“Characters interact naturally and believably, as emotions and tension heat up in the claustrophobic school trailer…Trieschmann provides a thought-provoking look at the complexity of people who find it impossible to empathize with viewpoints not their own when it comes to the topic of religion.” – Associated Press

“Trieschmann's gripping three-hander is very much in a tradition of American issue plays… But the cleverness of this piece is that its central drama is not about science versus creationism, but about faith and faithlessness, the gap between east-coast liberalism and small-town America, and about the way we dismiss other people's points of view.” - The Guardian 

"Trieschmann's writing is taut and laced with irony. Susan may not believe in God, but her language bristles with Christian allusion." - The Times

The world premiere of How the World Began was produced jointly during the 2011-2012 season in New York City by Women's Project Theater (Julie Crosby, Producing Artistic Director) and in Costa Mesa, California by South Coast Repertory Theater. 

The play received its European premiere at the Arcola Theatre, London on 15 November 2011, presented by Tom Atkins with support from out of Joint.



2m, 1f


Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle), Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

SUSAN PIERCE – mid-30s to early 40s; five months pregnant.
Rental Materials


N/A (Not a musical)

Catherine Trieschmann

Catherine Trieschmann

Catherine Trieschmann’s plays include The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, Crooked, How the World Began, Hot Georgia Sunday, and The Most Deserving. Her work has been produced Off-Broadway at the Women’s Project, the Bush Theatre (London), Out of Joint at the Arcola Theatre (London), South Coast Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the New Theatre (Sydney), Florida Stage, the Summer Play Festival, ... view full profile

Other Catherine Trieschmann titles:

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