by Chelsea Madsen
This is kind of embarrassing, something I hate to admit but I feel like it’s an essential part of the Cedar story. We have had the words, “Cedar & The Redwoods” in our meeting notes since 2010, they were taken down during one of the very first production meetings we ever held. We had this title before we were even officially under the name Copious Love. I usually hate things like that, projects that have titles before they even have concepts. Generally those projects seem contrived, but this title just sounded sooooo good! Like the phrase ‘Cellar Door’ it just flows off your tongue. It invoked such beauty in our minds that I knew it would haunt us if we didn’t do anything with it. So there sat this beautiful title, scribbled down in my notebook, for about a year. I waited, something would come, as it always does.
In the meantime, we started production for Sweet&Decent/Dark&Twisty. As I was driving all around our great city of Seattle, I started to get visions. They were fragmented thoughts, odd recollections of survival, stories of near death experiences, and the cripplingly tense moments that happen in the midst of trauma. Especially while driving, someone always has to drive. Usually, it’s me. Those visions turned out to be the first moments of Act One. I remember driving to Lacy and Tony’s apartment, walking in the door and loudly declaring, “Okay, I have to write a play about death!” I believe this was met with something along the lines of, “About time. Write it out, girl.”
I should give you some back story. Over the last four years, my family has had it pretty rough. We collectively went through several quite traumatic events that ended in losing (or almost losing), several members of our clan. We went to three funerals in six months. We were constantly in the hospital, waiting. It got to the point of being unbelievable. Around the time we started production of Alice’s Anthem, things came to a boiling point. All of a sudden, “survivor mode” was too much. Trauma and death was a norm in my life, this huge cloud of just hung out in my car, ready to go. And surprise, surprise! Death is normal. It’s the only thing about life that is definite and it’s something that we humans can all empathize with. I, unintentionally, became obsessed. All I wanted to do was drive. Just drive somewhere, and to disappear into the woods.
I have been revisiting The Redwoods in my dreams, and in real life, for years. It’s where my mind wanders when I need peace. And its the best vacation destination ever. There is something about looking up into those branches, into a world and eco-system that has no idea the forest floor exists. Something that hits you on all levels of consciousness, something that cannot be expressed through pictures or film, it needs a stage. Each one has a personality, each one has lived hundreds of lives. Over and over again they have all been through so much; human nature, fire, destruction, rebirth. It is impossible not to be captivated, inspired. And yet within this Forest, this place that has housed all this drama, it is overwhelmingly silent. So quiet you can barely believe it, all you have is nature and your thoughts. It is intimidatingly peaceful. You can’t help but let go. You look up and they seem to say, “YOU, HUMAN, ARE SMALL. YOU ARE YOUNG. LISTEN AND BE SILENT.” Shit. I’m just barely a root, and a loud one at that…Shhhhh…
Personally, my mental health has always been something that I have struggled with. I’m not ashamed to admit it, it’s actually something I think a lot of our audience will relate with. Sometimes, our struggles can unite us. Truthfully, writing Cedar & The Redwoods was to date, the hardest piece I have ever written. It came out fast and manic. I couldn’t even reread it after I was done. I just turned it over to Lacy to edit. I like plays best that way though, when there is urgency in the words that mirrors the urgency of real life. It wouldn’t be truthful if it wasn’t. Lacy knew the weight of this play before I did. She knew the second I told her I wanted to write it. This is why our company works so well, we couldn’t do it without each other and we anticipate nearly everything.
I think you will agree that this play is exactly as it is supposed to be. Not only when it comes to the script, but the production as well. The moment that we met John Paul Sharp in auditions we had to work with him, we cast him almost immediately as our leading man in Sweet & Decent/Dark & Twisty and in a matter of weeks he and his partner Lector were part of the Copious family. Working with him is a dream, he is so intuitive and playful it’s hard to direct him because you just want to watch him play. After collaborating with him as a member and casting him as Chase in Alice’s Anthem we did just that. John Paul is one of the most talented, genuine and hard working people you could ever meet. Inspiration and creativity flow out of him, he is fearless and he is grounded. We knew he had to be brought in as a director at some point, so we trusted our instincts to hand him the project of directing Cedar. His interpretations and visions for this production give me goosebumps. I can’t reveal anything but this is going to be a thrilling experience. It’s going to get in your head, it’s going to get under your skin and it’s going to be gorgeous.
Everyone at some point in their life will feel absolute and powerful guilt, stress, loss, regret. Most people have been haunted by life decisions, the ones that divide, the ones you don’t even want to say out loud or admit to. Most of us have had that desperate moment when you realize you need help. Everyone who has ever driven a car has had that moment when you need to pull the car over and uncontrollably weep. Not cry, WEEP. It is so human! Driving toward this big bad situation part of you just wants to get there, to take a shortcut, the other part just wants to turn around and get out of town. You just go, you just drive. Tears stinging down your face, gripping the wheel like your life depends on it, maybe someone else’s does. Driving always gives you this false sense that you have some semblance of control and accidents always prove you wrong.
With this play, you are invited right into these moments. I want you to get caught up in the chaos, and to be slightly exhausted when it’s all over. The good kind of exhaustion, the kind that comes after a breakthrough, and I want you to feel comfort. Relax, we’re all in this together. This is what I like to call, ‘Marathon Theatre’ and it’s what we do best. Which is why this play was worth the wait. Everything in its right place, everything as it’s supposed be.
Reagan Dickey as Cedar
Hey Y’all! Reagan is originally from “Sweet Home Alabama” and is a die hard Crimson Tide Alabama Fan! She has a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Psychology from The University of Alabama where she was also President of Alpha Psi Omega: Gamma Gamma Cast Theatre National Honor Society. Reagan is obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock movies, Sandra Bullock, and The Wizard of Oz. How appropriate she moved to the Emerald City, huh? She has only been living here as a “Seattle-ite” for a little over a year and is ecstatic about making her Copious Love debut as Cedar! For more information about Reagan, please visit her website at www.reagandickey.com!
Sarina Hart as Rose/Grandma Ellie/Jennifer
Sarina Hart is a recent transplant to Seattle from Whitefish, MT. She was last seen as Veronica in Whitefish Theatre Company’s production of God of Carnage and as Mrs. Muller in the Montana Repertory Theatre’s National Tour of Doubt. She is incredibly honored to begin her time in Seattle working on an original piece with a fantastic young company.
D’Arcy Harrison as Darcy/Natalie/Marc
D’Arcy is overjoyed to work with Copious Love as this is her first full length production in 5 years! She originally hails from Rhode Island and moved here over 12 years ago to do fringe theatre after recieving her BFA in Acting from Emerson College in Boston, MA. D’Arcy then discovered what its like to be a pauper actor and decided to find a passion that pays the rent! So, for the last ten years she has been establishing herself as a trusted hairstylist on Capitol Hill through her company D’Arcy Hair Design at Emerson Salon (check out her work at www.darcyhairdesign.com) D’Arcy’s favorite parts include Heather Locklear in Capitol Hill High Episodes 3+4, the Angel in Angels in America, Abigail in The Crucible and Flake in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. In 2002, D’Arcy received a Seattle Times Footlight Award for her performance/production of Oleanna by David Mamet. D’Arcy has had the pleasure to work with Open Circle Theatre, Bad Actor Productions and Greenstage as well as her own company, Vagabond Alley Productions in Seattle.
Geoff Finney as Nigel/Don/Uncle Patrick
Geoff is excited to join the cast of Cedar & The Redwoods as his third performance with Copious Love. He was most recently seen in Alice’s Anthem as Turk, the Mock Turtle and Sweet&Decent/Dark&Twisty as Ethan Ellis. He has been involved in stage and film for the better part of a decade and earned his B.A. in Drama from the University of Washington. He works with Copious Love as a member, but also works in film and television and can be seen on A&E on Cults as well as in the feature film Cuts and Bruises.