Week three of our guest blogs on Public Reviews sees writer of Crystal Springs Kathy Rucker share with us her inspiration behind the play which opens at The Park Theatre next month.
Play ideas come to me from all sorts of odd places: obituaries; photos of dead, forgotten family members; stolen conversations from hospital waiting rooms; the small, local stories in the back of the newspaper, usually next to the hearing aid ads. Crystal Springs was a little different. It began as a response to a challenge from an Artistic Director – write a play with six female characters about hate. Hate doesn’t come easily to me. Give me quirky, weird, demented or disturbing. I find hate difficult.
As I started contemplating where I would go with this play, my nine-yearold daughter launched a campaign for her own cell phone. A simple “no” would not appease her, so I had to articulate the reasons. She was too young. It was too expensive. She didn’t need the distraction. The truth was the thought of my daughter on the Internet made me very nervous. What if she innocently Googled “beaver” and suddenly saw some horrifying porn images? We’ve all read terrifying stories about kids being cyber-bullied on the Internet via their computers or mobile devices.
Visualizing someone mistreating my girl gave me the taste of hate I needed, and that became my starting point: mothers, their daughters and bullies.
Unfortunately, doing research was easy. It didn’t take long to accumulate a folder full of heartbreaking stories of kids being teased and humiliated online. There was one story that stopped me cold. A story about a mom who used the Internet, ostensibly, to protect her child. And then it spiraled into something horrible.
A few years ago we moved to a different town. My daughter started attending a new school. She was anxious about making friends. I was, too. Much to my surprise, I had all those feelings that I thought I left behind at St. Francis School for Girls in Sacramento. Silly, right? I’d get butterflies in my stomach when I would pass by groups of moms talking in the schoolyard. They all seemed to know each other already. Should I just go up to the group? Will they say hi? Eventually, after a couple of years of volunteer work, endless playdates, and lots of wine-fueled Mothers’ Nights Out, the anxiety went away.
With this memory, I began to imagine my fictional mom, new to a community with a vulnerable daughter who is being picked on. That’s a lot
to handle. And maybe the mom doesn’t have a sympathetic husband to calm her down when her insecurities color her world a deep crazy hue. Maybe one small thing leads to another. Welcome to Crystal Springs.