Discovery: A Comic Lament

Discovery: A Comic Lament


Introducing the most recent addition to the Ted & Co family of plays! Discovery: A Comic Lament, starring Ted Swartz and Michelle Milne, is a play about the Doctrine of Discovery, the legal framework that justifies theft of land and oppression of Indigenous Peoples. It finds unexpected humor at the crossroads of justice and land use, offering both comic and challenging glimpses into the absurdity of white settler oppression of Indigenous Peoples and the land we live on. A show about love, and loss, of land, Discovery nudges us to question our stories with honesty and integrity. 

 The Doctrine of Discovery is a difficult topic to talk about. The problem is as foundational as the land we live on, and our confusion, shame, or lack of knowledge about the subject can inhibit empathy and action. Using humor and drama, Discovery invites audiences to learn about the Doctrine of Discovery, to lament its ongoing legacy, and to connect with Indigenous-led justice efforts.

Discovery: A Comic Lament has been affirmed by both settler and Indigenous people. Several Indigenous people have expressed a feeling of profound relief; it is, in one woman’s words, an answer to a prayer that white settlers are sharing the burden of Doctrine of Discovery education from Indigenous shoulders. In Winnipeg, an elder from a settler community who read an excerpt from the play said that it had “opened up a space in his heart” to understand the Doctrine of Discovery.

The play is written by Alison Brookins, directed by Phil Weaver-Stoesz, and produced by Ted & Co. Created in partnership with the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition.

Booking now for 2019/2020!

About the Doctrine of Discovery

The Doctrine of Discovery is a philosophical and legal framework dating to the 15th century that gave Christian governments moral and legal rights to invade and seize Indigenous lands and dominate Indigenous Peoples. The patterns of oppression that continue to dispossess Indigenous Peoples of their lands today are found in numerous historical documents such as Papal Bulls, Royal Charters and U.S. Supreme Court rulings as recent as 2005. Collectively, these and other concepts form a paradigm of domination that legitimates extractive industries that displace and destroy many Indigenous Peoples and other vulnerable communities and harm the earth.

About the People

Ted Swartz, actor and producer, is a theologian of a different sort. Both theater and seminary trained, Ted has found a unique and entertaining discovery; at the intersection of humor and biblical story is often a greater understanding of the text.  Or, at the very least, a different understanding.  Call it “comedic exegesis.” Ted is the owner and creative director of Ted & Co Theaterworks.

Blending poignancy and humor with biblical story, Ted has an uncanny ability to bring archaic biblical characters to life in a way that helps anyone identify with people who were at one time only names in a big Book. It’s through this portrayal of these life-like characters that comedy emerges and audiences see God’s story in a whole new light. Ted has written or co-written more than 14 shows and the book “Laughter is Sacred Space”.

Ted lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Along with writing and acting, his loves include his wife, Sue; three sons, Eliot, Ian and Derek; daughters-in-law, Katrina, Hanna and Chelsea; his granddaughters Mona Quinn and Hattie Claire… oh, and baseball.

Alison Brookins, writer, hails from the traditional Ho-Chunk land that is now Madison, and is a seminarian at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary where in May she will earn the wildly inaccurate title Master of Divinity. She has in turn studied, eschewed, and rediscovered theater, and is fascinated with using theater for theological communication and truth telling.


Michelle Milne HeadshotMichelle Milne, actor, has worked as a director, performer, writer, and educator across the US — including Chicago, Portland, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Goshen, Indiana. Recently she has directed highly physical and immersive productions of Brontë, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Eurydice, The Best of Everything, and several ensemble-devised productions.


She co-created For Those Who Cannot Fly, an original piece about borders and walls, and performed it at San Francisco’s FURY Factory Festival last June. She is currently expanding that piece for touring with her company, Bird on a Wire, as a “living room” production titled Boundary Conditions. She has also performed her original writing as the character “Carmelina du Jour” in Chicago’s Poetry Bordello; appeared as Supervisor McCrae in the sci-fi TV show pilot DeckTechs; and was a part of the ensemble for Palissimo’s The Painted Bird at La Mama in NYC.

Michelle is a Feldenkrais Method practitioner, has taught theatre and movement classes at Columbia College Chicago and Goshen College, and teaches creative/performing arts classes in prisons and jails. She has spent the past three years traveling around the US as part of her ongoing writing project, Traveling Home. She is thrilled to be working with Ted (finally!), and once again with Alison and Phil.

Phil Headshot

Phil Weaver-Stoesz, director, works as a theatre director, arts educator, and creative facilitator. He is a recent MFA recipient from ASU, where he assisted Liz Lerman in teaching a cross-disciplinary course that devised performances from current science research and stage managed Sojourn Theatre’s The Race, an 8 hour civic experience on election day directed by Michael Rohd.

While at ASU, Phil was awarded the Creation Grant for his research in theatre and creative computing, as well as the PAVE Arts Entrepreneurship Grant for starting Catalyst Creative, a production company that creates performances, installations and festivals through facilitating artist/researcher collaboration. He also specialized in new play development, where he worked for 16 months on a new work, working with the playwright from the first draft all the way through a fully produced main stage production.

His latest work, The Source Project, brought together sustainability researchers and artists to co-create a Planet Celebration Festival at the Desert Botanical Garden. He is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Script Preview: The Requirement


“Right now, you can take advantage of this one-time-offer of our full Citizenship Package! This is your one and only chance of citizenship, which includes, for a limited time only, full acknowledgment of your humanity!

Sign up today, and you will also receive, absolutely free, our Civilization Kit—everything you never knew you needed! A “You Can Farm” pamphlet! Firearms! And patriarchy!(party horn)

All further information, caveats, and fine print can be found in our “You Have Been Discovered” brochure, which shall be distributed. We request and require you that you take all the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it.”

(PRIEST hands brochures out to the front row. GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL comes directly after him, collecting them.)