What I do and why I do it

I write plays to change the stories we believe in, because that’s the best way I know to change the world we live in. My provocation to write comes from the myths and legends that have shaped my world, whether those are ancient Greek tales like the myths of Medusa or Persephone, or whether they are specifically American legends like the idea that America is a melting pot or that New England was the cradle of liberty. All of my plays challenge stereotypes and feature (at least) gender parity. In “The Story,” I re-imagine the Book of Genesis with Eve as Adam’s mother. “Medusa’s Tale” tells how Medusa was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple and punished by the goddess of justice for this sacrilege. “Just Deserts” also raises questions about justice, telling the origin story of trial by jury from the perspective of the Furies, female spirits of vengeance.

My interest in the origins of injustice in America has intensified since the 2016 elections. In that spirit, I have recently pulled two long-simmering projects off the back burner. “Gap” is about stereotype threat in a public high school in an ostensibly progressive community. A scene from “Gap” served as the screenplay for an award-winning short film of the same name directed by Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) and helped to advance his early career. “The Melting Pot” tells the story of early twentieth-century battles over immigration; painfully, it requires no effort to make its contemporary relevance clear. “The Melting Pot” received its world premiere at Everyday Inferno Theatre in Manhattan in 2018. My current project is “Witch Hunt,” about the roots of the 1692 Salem witch persecutions. The story follows Tituba, the enslaved South American Indian woman whose false confession fueled the panic. Those Women Productions will stage the world premiere in Berkeley this summer (July 12 – August 4, 2019 at La Val’s Subterranean Theatre).

My work has been broadcast on BET and NPR and staged on five continents from The Magic Theatre of San Francisco to Peking University in Beijing. I am Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College of California, the Executive Director of Those Women Productions, and a member of the Dramatists Guild. Learn more about my work on the New Play Exchange: https://newplayexchange.org/users/484/carol-lashof

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