Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the 2004 Pinter Prize for Drama.
“This is a lovely and ambitious play, suffused with generosity of spirit, from a writer whose courage, wit, and intelligence has always moved and inspired me. It’s about human connection under duress, and Miller honors her subject’s vastness, fragility, and elusiveness. She explores the various means — confession, observation, investigation, fiction — through which people seek out and seek to sustain relatedness. Among the play’s virtues is that it reminds us that worlds are destroyed when human relationships unravel, and when worlds come unraveled it is only relationships that sustain life. If it is the case that this all-important skein of connection is assembled through discrete moments as brief as eye contact, as Miller seems to suggest, then it is true that in these discrete moments, worlds can be redeemed.”
TONY KUSHNER, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angels in America, Homebody/Kabul, and Caroline, or Change
“A Map of Doubt and Rescue is a kind of theatrical poem — characters are words, their longings delicious rhythms, their memories lyrical motion. It is a play, trying to remember itself, trying to reassemble meaning — full of the richest loneliness and language.”
EVE ENSLER, author of The Vagina Monlogues, The Good Body, and Necessary Targets
“A Map of Doubt and Rescue is one of those rare works of art in which structure and meaning come together perfectly, taking its audience on a journey, in which, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, we return to the place from which we began and know it fully for the first time. That theatrical journey celebrates art, vision, forgiveness, and above all our human interconnectedness which exists despite the limits of individual perspective. We leave the theatre assured that our private rooms open onto larger vistas which touch and are touched by all humanity. Susan Miller’s play is a remarkable, lyrical achievement in theatre.”
Francis Gillen Editor, THE PINTER REVIEW
“We all make mistakes, of course, and most of us try to put them behind us as rapidly as possible. But on stage at this year’s Ojai Playwrights Festival, mistakes in life were as often as not celebrated by characters as diverse as a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor, a great Russian poet and an ambitious young politician.
Susan Miller, a two-time winner of the Obie Award, expressed this theme most eloquently in the play that climaxed the festival, her spectacularly original Map of Doubt and Rescue. The play opens with a newspaperman looking for goofs for his “Mistakes” column. He wants not to mock or lecture his readers, but to show them, he says, how “to dissolve the properties of the word ‘mistake’ and imbue it with some kind of glorious, shattering possibility.”
The play instantly puts him to the test. No sooner has he found a social miscue for the column then his wife (played by Judith Light) arrives to say she’s leaving him. While he’s trying to talk to her, he’s interrupted by a call. It’s good news, he’s told, but when he takes it, his wife leaves. He’s won the Pulitzer for convincing readers that mistakes can be opportunities. But how will he convince himself?
Having brought out this theme, the play swerved into a dramatic landscape rich in character, incident and comedic wordplay, but with a minimum of plot. The play calls for eight actors, all of whom took on multiple roles save for Michael Gross (the touchingly idealistic newspaperman). By design, the actress who portrays the wife becomes a studio executive making a film based on the book the estranged wife wrote about the failing marriage. The actor playing a goofy film nerd becomes a hot young screenwriter uncertain of the worth of the movies. An American girl who identified with Anne Frank becomes a Serbian poet who adores the movies. The ever-changing characters swim through each other’s lives, finding the humor in their differences, sharing their sorrows and often finishing each other’s sentences. It’s easy for them: they may appear different, but they have so much in common.”
VENTURA COUNTY REPORTER
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