Escaping the suburbs in ‘Cherokee’ at the Wilma

David Ingram, Marcia Saunders, Ashley Everage and Kevin Jackson go camping in "Cherokee." Credit: Alexander Iziliaev
David Ingram, Marcia Saunders, Ashley Everage and Kevin Jackson go camping in “Cherokee.”
Credit: Alexander Iziliaev

In Lisa D’Amour’s last play, the Obie Award winning “Detroit,” two female characters yearn for a camping trip, but only manage to drive eight miles from home before their plans unravel and they find themselves back in the suburbs. So in her follow-up, D’Amour says, “I really wanted to write a play where the people actually got to go camping.”

The result is “Cherokee,” which will have its world premiere this month at the Wilma Theater. The play is a companion piece to “Detroit” in that it also deals with two couples, but takes its characters out of their element and into the Great Smoky Mountains. “The fact that these four characters have driven far from suburban Houston is very important to the play,” D’Amour says. “It’s almost as though getting out of the concrete interstate world of the suburbs and into the fresh air and dirt and hills of nature allows them to listen to themselves more clearly and allows their intuition to kick in.”

The play, directed by Barrymore Award winner Anne Kauffman, follows the campers as one of their party goes missing and a mysterious half-Cherokee drops into their campground. The encounter was inspired by D’Amour’s childhood camping vacations to Cherokee, N.C. There, she would watch the long-running outdoor historical drama “Unto These Hills,” which for more than 60 years has recounted the story of the Cherokee’s forced removal to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.

“It was one of my formative theater experiences growing up,” D’Amour recalls. She returned to the area for the first time as an adult during the writing of “Cherokee,” and visited the 2,800-seat Mountainside Theatre again. “I totally got the chills walking into the theater because it was such a big part of my childhood.”

The area has changed in the intervening years, with an enormous casino now standing alongside the nature trails and historical reenactment village where visitors can learn about Cherokee traditions. “It’s really disorienting in interesting ways to move back and forth between those worlds, and the play deals with that,” D’Amour says. The native character in the play feels like he has one foot in a contemporary Western world and one foot in a world steeped in Native American tradition and ritual, and he’s trying to find his own place at some intersection of those.”

A sense of place
As half of the performance duo PearlDamour, the playwright has created a number of site-specific works (the pair is currently working on a commission from Longwood Gardens). D’Amour says that background has an impact on a play like “Cherokee,” which deals strongly with a sense of place.

“In many of my plays the landscape is really a character,” she says. “If I’m stuck in a scene I try to just look around the setting, almost like walking around in my mind to see what might happen next or what might change.”

‘Cherokee’
Jan. 8-Feb. 8, opening night Jan. 15
Wilma Theater
265 S. Broad St.
$35-$66
215-546-7824
www.wilmatheater.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.