February 05, 2011

Doctor's experiences inspire The Basketmaker

Experiences in medicine inspire 'The Basketmaker'

Oly Little Theatre:  Playwright's story focuses on spiritual dimension of health

By Molly Gilmore
The play, set in 18th-century New Hampshire, tells the story of a girl who is having strange experiences--ones that upset her mother even more because of mysterious circumstances from her own past.

“She’s talking to the animals and talking to the trees. The spirit of the woods that they are living in speaks to her,” the playwright said. “You might say she is psychotic, or is she in tune with the spirits of the natural world?”

Then they meet a Native American basketmaker--played by tribal basketmaker and storyteller Harvest Moon--who has a completely different view of what is happening. “The basketmaker tells her how such abilities are respected and honored in her tradition,” Baughan said.
And:Baughan, who’s directing the play and even has a bit part in it, said his experiences in medicine inspired the story. He wrote it in 2003, while working in New Hampshire.

“If there is a traumatic experience in someone’s youth, the long-term effects of it might not show up until their 30s or 40s,” he said. “That is intriguing to me as a family physician. We’re looking at what might have happened to the mother when she was a child.”

He also is interested in the truth behind mass hysteria, he said. “When there is an epidemic in a school that looks like food poisoning and it turns out to be hysterical, the first person who was unwell usually had a genuine medical condition. Then something triggers mass hysteria, which overshadows the experience of the first person.”
Comment:  For more Native-themed plays, see Chicago Tribune Reviews Trickster and Tables Turned in Assimilation.

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