What if the land you love was stolen?
Starring Ted Swartz and Michelle Milne, We Own This Now is a play by Alison Casella Brookins that looks at love of land, loss of land, and what it means to “own” something.
Chris has farmed the land his grandmother found as a home in Kansas after fleeing Russia almost 100 years ago. His daughter Riley is learning more about the people who were on that land before her Oma arrived, and the jarring connections she has to the fate of those people. Chris and Riley navigate their changing relationship to each other, the land they’ve been living on, and the stories they tell.
Historical documents, absurd situations, and extended metaphors accompany Riley and Chris’s journey. They — and the audience — learn how the Doctrine of Discovery (the legal framework that justifies theft of land and oppression of Indigenous Peoples) is still being used and causing harm today.
We Own This Now asks:
What does it mean to “own” something? What is the relationship between “owning” and “taking” — and what is the relationship between “ownership” and (taking) responsibility?
Our Audience Says…
“Wherever you are, whenever you are near this performance…GO! You will be rewarded handsomely with a thought-provoking, disturbingly wonderful romp of a play. Expect to be challenged! We saw the maiden voyage…and it is a winner.” – Jep
“You took the content from the head to the heart…” – Brenda
“The points are clear without being preachy, the characters are engaging and likeable, and the ending is open for us to walk into. I was already on a path into some kind of reconciliation work with the indigenous community, and you have opened me up to an even deeper intention in that direction. Thank you.” – David
“The stories were both beautiful and painful to watch, as it should be.” – Patty
“I’m so grateful to have attended last night’s performance in Leola, PA. As you may know, there’s a 42″ high-pressure shale gas pipeline being built across Lancaster County. It meant a lot to me that you spoke of our issues in the play. The teaching you’re doing is incredibly important.” – Don
“I have been researching my German ancestors’ immigration through the port of Philadelphia in the 1700s … Your play reminded me how art can engage not just the intellect, but the soul and our emotional lives in a deeper way that has more potential for change. Thank you!” – Mark
“The car metaphor is brilliant.” – Randy
Script Preview: “Empty”
Now. Look at the land, really look at it. Is the land empty, or full?
Is it fulfilling its God-given purpose?
To be built upon! To become productive! May I quote, sir? “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. And have dominion over every living thing.” We must fulfill the earth, that is its manifest destiny: to be conquered, to be a place of growth and expansion!
The Doctrine of Discovery is the philosophical and legal framework that justified invading and seizing Indigenous lands and dominating Indigenous Peoples by 15th century Christian governments.
This framework formed the basis for patterns of oppression that continues today through concepts of precedent and ideas of ownership, including U.S. Supreme Court rulings as recent as 2005.
These concepts created a foundation of domination that legitimates ongoing displacement of Indigenous Peoples, and harm the earth.
For more info, visit our partners at the Coalition for Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery
Ted Swartz, Actor & Producer (he/him), is a writer, performer, producer, and chaser of goosebumps who has been mucking around in the worlds of the sacred and profane for over 30 years. He has a lifelong curiosity around laughter — the spiritual, delicious social lubricant that proclaims, “You are safe here.”
He is the creator or co-creator of more than a dozen plays, performing across the US and in other countries. Recently he wrote and performed in the new film, No Feeling is Final, and his one man show, Life is a Comedy. Both premiered in 2021. He continues to tour Holy Surprises and Just Give ‘Em The News (a Christmas show) with co-creator Jeff Raught, and is developing a new show on the Enneagram with co-creator Michelle Milne.
In addition to acting in solo and multiple cast original shows, Ted is an accomplished speaker and teacher, melding theater, comedy, creativity, and soul in engaging presentations. He is the founder and Executive Director of Center for Art, Humor, and Soul.
Michelle Milne, actor, movement direction, production manager (she/her), has worked as a performer, director, writer, and educator across the US — including both coasts and regions in between. Her writing/performance includes a solo show about the US-Mexico border (Edge Effects, which premiered in San Francisco); The Telling of the Bees (Chicago, San Francisco); a duo show with musician Heather Kropf (We Know There Are Oceans) that has toured around the US; and selections of her poetry as “Carmelina du Jour” in Chicago’s Poetry Bordello. She is currently producing and co-creating with Ted Swartz a play about the Enneagram.
Her directing includes highly physical and immersive productions of Cymbeline: Interrupted (an online interactive experience); The Light Princess; Brontë (Portland Drammy Award, Best Production); Every Brilliant Thing (Tucson MAC nominee, Best Director & Best Production); Macbeth (Two Rivers Prison in Oregon); Julius Caesar; Eurydice; and Romeo & Juliet (SB Tribune Regional Best Production); multiple ensemble-devised productions; and the film No Feeling is Final, by Ted Swartz.
Michelle is a Feldenkrais Method practitioner, and has taught theatre and movement at colleges, universities, prisons, and jails, and to the general public. For seven years, she navigated three geographic homes and life on the road as part of her ongoing writing project, Traveling Home. You can read some of her writing at mappingtheterrain.wordpress.com.
Alison Casella Brookins, playwright (she/her), is a hospital chaplain and free-range pastor ordained for ministry by Mennonite Church USA living on the traditional land of the Potawatomi, Miami, and Peoria Peoples. She does her best to live into a theology of justice, joy, and humor, dreaming of those moments when the world cracks open and something remarkable peeks through. Alison reads lots of speculative fiction, runs medium distances very slowly, and sometimes writes songs on long walks with her dogs.
Bryan Rafael Falcón, director (he/him), is a co-founder and Artistic and Managing Director at the Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre in Tucson, Arizona. He graduated with an MFA in Directing from Western Illinois University, and prior to the S&S he co-founded and ran two technology companies. Bryan’s first professional gig after college was running lights as a roadie for Ted Swartz so he is pleased to be working once again with this talented group.
At the S&S Bryan has directed Ada and the Engine, Babel, It Is Magic, Cloud Tectonics, Blood Wedding, My Life in Sports, Two Plays for Lost Souls: The Love Talker & The Yellow Wallpaper, Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, for which he won the 2017 Arizona Daily Star Mac Award for Best Director and There is a Happiness That Morning Is which was the winner of the 2018 Mac for Best Drama.
Prior to the S&S Bryan served as Artistic Director for two Indiana-based theatre companies, New World Arts and the Backporch Theatre Company. In Tucson, Bryan has also directed at The Rogue Theatre, including The New Electric Ballroom and Awake and Sing. He was recognized as Best Director (2012 Arizona Daily Star Mac Award) for the show The Night Heron. In 2020 he was named the recipient of the Buffalo Exchange Artist Award. He is the co-director of Tucson Meet Yourself, a folklife festival in Tucson Arizona and serves on the board of the Southwest Folklife Alliance.
Lynne Perkins Socey, 2022 acting coach / directing collaborator (she/her), strives to create theatre experiences that elicit empathy, challenge the intellect, and encourage intentional decision making. She has acted and/or directed for Indiana Repertory Theatre, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Human Race Theatre Company, Lilly Theatre at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, and numerous college/university and summer theatres.
A free-lance producer, casting director, voice-over actor, and sound designer, Lynne also served as Artistic Director of Picture This, Producer for Bridgework Touring Theatre, and was a founding member of the Richmond Shakespeare Festival. A member of Actors’ Equity Association and a certified instructor for the Expressive Actor Integrated Voice, Movement & Actor Training Method, Lynne is currently Chair of the Earlham College Department of Theatre Arts which toured her adaptation of Kathryn Clare Glen’s The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway to the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland (for which she received the Region 3 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival / Association of Theatre in Higher Education Innovative Teaching Prize). The Further Misadventures of Martin Hathaway: Shipwrecked Off Heramathea’s Cove is currently in development for the 2023 festival.
As an artist committed to the power of theatre to facilitate compassionate, respectful conversations through the stories we tell and the ways we bring them to life, Lynne is thrilled to be a part of the We Own This Now company. Find more of her work at: Lynne Perkins Socey
Lindsay Nance, 2019 co-director (she/her), is a multi-hyphenate performer and teacher, and has loved the opportunities to be a part of the ongoing evolution of We Own This Now.
As an educator Lindsay has taught and coached at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Siena College, the University of Tennessee, the Clarence Brown Theatre, Goshen College, Manitoba Theatre for Young People and North End Story Lab. She has worked on productions in a variety of capacities including as a dialect, text and acting coach.
As an actor, she has worked in New York, Chicago and across the US. Select acting credits include; New York: Medea and Much Ado About Nothing (Titan Theatre). Regional: The Open Hand (world premiere), Titus Andronicus, A Christmas Carol, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Miracle Worker (Clarence Brown Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (GoShakes Theatre), BOY (Circle Theatre), The Home Project (About Face Theatre), Jack Goes Boating (Thunder & Lightening Ensemble), Legion (WildClaw Theatre), The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Ismene, (New World Arts); as well over a dozen film credits. She holds her MFA in Acting from the University of Tennessee.
After having lived far and wide, Lindsay is happy to be making her home in Winnipeg, Canada with her supportive and creative husband, Travis and her angry and beautiful cat Penny. Find more of her work at: www.LindsayNance.com