Theater Project Collects Voices of Peoples Temple

“Moving, compelling, challenging” is how David Dower, artistic director of Z Space, describes the transcripts of interviews being conducted for the theater studio’s commissioned new play about Peoples Temple. “The diversity of experiences with the Temple, the directions people’s lives have taken in the years since, and the questions these stories raise about our own lives now are all very powerful source material for what should make an indelible evening in the theater.”

The Z Space Studio’s development of a play based on contemporary interviews and historical materials continues, as the writers crisscross the country to listen to people tell their stories about their involvement with Peoples Temple. This fall, San Francisco is the home for a month-long workshop with writers Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Steve Wangh, and Margo Hall to begin the process of putting the play together and to research materials available at the California Historical Society.

The ensemble of writers and performers plans to continue interviews through the end of the year, and new voices are joining the process each week. “We are heartened by the level of support from the community of former members, families, and others whose lives were touched by the Temple,” says lead writer Fondakowski. “We are hearing from people who, to this point, have spoken very little or not at all of their experiences, as well as from people who have become familiar voices through the years.”

The text of the play will ultimately be drawn verbatim from these source materials, a process which led to the successful productions of The Laramie Project, I Think I Like Girls, and Unquestioned Integrity: The Hill/Thomas Hearings, which used the transcripts of the congressional hearings as its source. Margo Hall, a member of this ensemble, won awards and accolades for her portrayal of Anita Hill in the world premiere at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre.

For information about workshop performances open to the public during 2003, contact the Z Space at www.zspace.org. If you would like to talk about participating in the interviews to tell your own stories, call David Dower at 415-626-0453.

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on March 16th, 2014.
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