Meet the Playwright: Morgan Kinnally
Rehearsals for God's Necklace are now in full swing! Over the next few weeks, we'll be giving you a peek into the development process and introducing key members of the creative team here on the Moxie Arts blog.
First up, an interview with the playwright of God's Necklace, Morgan Kinnally!
Morgan Kinnally is a California-based playwright and educator. Her work has been presented by Ion Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Festival, Scripps Ranch Theatre’s New Works Studio, Theatre for the New City, For a Better Understanding of Mankind, Midwest Dramatists Conference, and Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris. She is a Eugene O’Neill and Princess Grace Award semifinalist and a finalist in Leah Ryan Emerging Women Writers, Bay Area Playwrights Foundation Festival, Pride Films & Plays' LezPlay Contest, and Bechdel Test : The Bridge Initiative Women in Arizona Theatre. Dramatists Guild Member. B.F.A. in Theatre/Acting from NY State University at Buffalo, M.Ed, and English 12 and creative writing teacher at Bayfront Charter High School in Chula Vista, CA.
Tell us a little bit about the history of God's Necklace and your research process.
God’s Necklace was inspired by my first conversation with Chuol Tut and Peter Biel at the Southern Sudanese Community Center in San Diego in 2014. Peter and Chuol were refugees from the Second Sudanese Civil War, but once we started speaking, they alerted me to another war that had recently broken out in December 2013 within the new South Sudan under their own leaders. I later read a story about a Nuer man who fled Juba when the president’s men were killing Nuer door-to-door and left to go back to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.This man had spent his childhood in Kakuma Refugee Camp having fled the Second Sudanese Civil War and now he fled again back to the same refugee.
Chuol was instrumental in helping me with Nuer language translation and culture during this process, and this play is dedicated to him.
Who is a woman+ artist you admire and why?
The characters in God's Necklace have such vivid, distinct personalities and histories that I know the Moxie team wasn't familiar with before reading the play for the first time last year. What inspired you to create these particular characters?
In my research and conversations with Chuol, I discovered the topic of Nuer female marriage. I had read in Sharon Hutchinson’s anthropology research of a Nuer girl who tried to claim paternity for her friend’s pregnancy. This girl inspired the character Nyadomaac. Nyapuot was inspired by a translated Nuer song by Terese Svboda about a woman who couldn’t have children and was shunned from her community. Lastly, Roberta was inspired by an old arborist who showed up at my door in California one day complaining about my dying pine trees, and who later stood in my kitchen and told me Kumeyaay (a Native American people from the Southwestern US) was his adopted culture. I was also taken with the anthropologist, E.E. Evans Pritchard. His collection of Nuer religion and myths were fascinating, and contributed to the development of the characters of Candit and Nyaliep.
What drives you to work in the theatre?
Why is God's Necklace important right now?
The global total of displaced people and refugees has steadily increased in recent years. Some come from neighboring and familiar countries, and others from places the general public may know little about. God's Necklace sheds light on the recent civil war in the world's newest nation, South Sudan. Having compassion for other countries, cultures, and people, as well as our own, is a value I believe in. Immigrants today struggle with resettlement and all the challenges that come with uprooting themselves from home. The play calls on the audience to consider their own apathetic or philanthropic notions about helping people in their community.
Don't miss Morgan's incredible play on October 24th-November 3rd at the Center at West Park Sanctuary Space! Get tickets here!