How the World Began

by  Catherine Trieschmann

Full Length Play, Drama  /  2m, 1f

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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How the World Began

by  Catherine Trieschmann

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    2m, 1f
  • Duration

    Duration

    90 minutes
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

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.
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Reviews

"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

Considerations

Performing Groups

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

Cautions

  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: Present Day
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Setting: Plainview, Kansas - a small town in northwest Kansas. The inside of a trailer.
  • Additional Features: No intermission

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

2m, 1f
SUSAN PIERCE – mid-30s to early 40s; five months pregnant.
MICAH STAAB – 16
GENE DINKEL – 60s
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Cast Attributes

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

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Authors

Catherine Trieschmann

Catherine Trieschmann’s plays include The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock, Crooked, How the World Began, Hot Georgia Sunday, The Most Deserving, Holy Laughter, OZ 2.5 and One House Over. Her work has been produced Off-Broadway at the Women’s Project, the Bush Theatre (London), Out of Joint at the Arcola Theatre (London), So ...

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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.

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