by Haley Flanders, dramaturg
Hello! To continue my trend from my last blog post, where I summarized the first play in the Ware trilogy, Mother Hicks, this blog is about the last play in the trilogy, The Edge of Peace. This was Zeder’s final play as a college professor and was workshopped at the Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) like the first two plays in the trilogy. In the play, the setting is Ware in 1945, near the end of WWII. Characters from the previous plays such as Tuc, Mother Hicks, Clovis P. Eudy, Ricky Ricks, Girl, and Maizie (known as Margaret) appear in this play!
Here is a short summary from SCT’s website, when they produced the play in March 2013. To visit the site, click here!
“This touching exploration of community dynamics and the strength of individuals is the final play in an acclaimed trilogy by Suzan Zeder. The series explores the life of Tuc, a Deaf man, as he evolves from the town outcast to a beloved resident. The Edge of Peace is set at the end of World War II, in the small town of Ware, Illinois and centers around Buddy, the younger brother of a soldier at war. A cast of compelling characters – Tuc, a soldier’s worried relatives, an old widow with mysterious ways, and a grown orphan Girl – all seek truth and healing. We witness the power of community as they come to understand what’s behind their façades and long held prejudices.”
My favorite quote from the video: “Sign language is the most poetically visual, beautiful language you can imagine on stage. And I was captivated by the sheer power of what that language looks like in performance.”
Here, Zeder works with the actors to help produce this production as her final project at the university. On February 1, 2013, the Austin Chronicle published an article about this process. It was titled, “Letting Go, With ‘Peace’: Champion for new plays Suzan Zeder closes her career at UT with a new drama of her own”. Click here to read the entire article.
Here are some great pictures from the Seattle Children’s Theatre production of The Edge of Peace, with some description to provide you with a some more plot. The pictures are from the same link as the quote at the top of the blog.
Here, Buddy Ricks and Clovis P. Eudy are at the local market. Clovis is showing Buddy on the map where his brother Ricky (from Mother Hicks) is stationed as a soldier for the war. He has been declared missing in action and Buddy refuses to believe that his big brother is dead.
In this play, Tuc is in his late 20’s and is the postman. He communicates with Mother Hicks on the stoop, probably deciding what to do about being offered a position to move to Akron, Ohio to be a mechanic for the Goodyear Plant. There is a large Deaf community in Akron during this time.
In this picture, Mother Hicks appears to be speaking with Ricky Ricks after he secretly returns home. His family does not know yet. Mother Hicks had been listening to the radio to try and find out about Ricky’s status and location. Many felt she was a spy for the Germans because she was listening to Germans on the radio.
ZEDER SUMS UP THE TRILOGY: Zeder wrote a powerful insert in the education packet for Seattle Children’s Theatre’s production of The Edge of Peace summarizing her experience and journey writing all 3 plays over 3 decades. Here is an excerpt:
“In 1982 SCT commissioned me to write a play called Mother Hicks. The original production in 1983 was directed by Rita Giomi. The response to Mother Hicks was remarkable, due in no small part to the powerful presence of the Deaf character, Tuc, and to the artistry of Deaf actors who have played him over the years. Thirteen years after I wrote Mother Hicks, I gave Tuc his own play, The Taste of Sunrise. Once again SCT commissioned the play, and the original production in 1996 was directed by Linda Hartzell and featured Billy Seago as Tuc. Now, seventeen years later I return to Ware to finish the stories of characters who are as real to me as my own family.
Although each play tells its own complete story, taken together the trilogy leads us through three pivotal eras of American history as reflected in the lives of the families who live in Ware. At the core of each play is an issue important in the interaction of Deaf and hearing cultures. Each play also tells the story of a child facing as tough a time as he or she will ever face, with courage, with humor, with imagination, with grace. The young characters who inhabit these plays have taught me by their example. They have inspired me. I am not sure if I have created them or if they have created me.
These plays span thirty years of my writing life and thirty years of artistic partnership with Seattle Children’s Theatre. We have all grown up and grown older together, characters and collaborators alike. But now the stories are told and all that remains is for you who will see this play to allow these characters to live in your imagination. Welcome to Ware!”
Click here to download the entire “Edge of Peace” education packet.
This weekend, the cast received their actor’s packet and we talked briefly about the summary of this play, and I provided then with many pages to SCT’s study guide, including these paragraphs written by Zeder. Knowing the whole story helps the actors know more about their characters, and how much Zeder loved these characters and their stories, enough to give them a full trilogy. Hopefully watching our production of The Taste of Sunrise will encourage you to read and/or watch the first two plays in the future. Also, you will have more context for our play, so the story will be more powerful for you! I echo Zeder’s words, “Welcome to Ware” and enjoy your stay!