This week we welcome playwright Tommy Smith, who has written a challenging short play in response to the theme of “Fools” and the deceptive character of Delilah from Judges 16.

Note: This work contains graphic descriptions of sexual acts. Audience members are asked to use their own discretion. Spark and Echo Arts is committed to engaging today’s most talented artists from diverse backgrounds and commissioning them to respond honestly to the Bible in their voice. For more information on our approach to engaging the culture with the Bible visit our FAQ Page. Audience members looking for more insight to frame this work should see the Editor’s Note on the bottom of this page.

 

Read JESSICA (PDF)

 
 
 

From the Artist: 

The Bible is a template for other stories. I often sift through the Bible for skeletons of other plays I am writing. Delilah was just a jumping off point for the text here. Any book that has survived thousands of years, no matter its message, has value for a storyteller. And especially because these structures are absolutely free — the writer has to invent little, because the viewer will sense the integrity of the tale behind the language. I was also raised Catholic, and that sticks to you like a sickness, and you spend the rest of your life rebelling against it, hence why I’m a playwright.

 
 
Tommy Smith’s plays include PTSD (Ensemble Studio Theatre;  d. Billy Carden), WHITE HOT (Here Arts Center; d. May Adrales & West Of Lenin, d. Braden Abraham), PIGEON (Ensemble Studio Theatre;  d. Billy Carden), THE WIFE (Access Gallery;  d. May Adrales), SEXTET (Washington Ensemble Theatre; d. Roger Benington), CARAVAN MAN (Williamstown Theatre Festival, music & lyrics by Gabriel Kahane, d. Kip Fagan), DEMON DREAMS (Magic Futurebox, music by DJ Spooky, d. Kevin Laibson), A DAY IN DIG NATION (PS 122, co-written and d. Michael McQuilken), AIR CONDITIONING (Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference; d. Steve Cosson), among others.

In addition, his award-winning theatrical collaborations with Reggie Watts played at The Public Theatre, Lamama, The Warhol Museum, MCA Chicago, ICA Boston, On The Boards and PICA: TBA, among others. As a director/writer, Tommy recently created the environmental sound performances, NECTARINE EP (for Flea Theater) LOTUS EATERS EP (for IRT Theater, with voices of Neil Gaiman, Marin Ireland & Reed Birney) and FORTH (for MFB, d. Meiyin Wang).

Tommy is the recipient of the PONY fellow at The Lark, a two-time winner of the Lecomte du Nouy Prize, a recipient of the E.S.T. Sloan Grant, a winner of the Page73 Productions Playwriting Fellowship, a recipient of the Creative Capital award, a two-time winner of the MAP Fund, and a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group at Primary Stages. Publications include PIGEON for Dramatists Play Service and WHITE HOT in the New York Theatre Review. His feature film FIGMENT was optioned by Ridley Scott’s production company ScottFree. He is a graduate of the playwriting program at The Juilliard School. He lives in New York City.

 

This work was curated by Michael Markham.


This play is copyrighted by the artist and featured here by permission.
 
 
Editor’s Note: Spark and Echo Arts commissions artists to respond to the Bible and gives them freedom to respond with own their voice. Due to its graphic nature, this work has been particularly challenging for our staff and members of our audience. It does, however, offer important insight on Delilah, and we thank Mr. Smith for boldly taking on the challenge of creating a piece in response to such a controversial person. We would like to offer a few questions to consider, which may be of benefit to some readers:

What similarities are there between Jessica and Delilah? Delilah is a manipulative person. Is Jessica?
When Jessica shares her story is she celebrating it? Does she regret is? At the end of the play is Jessica about to return to her life?
This work was written in response to the theme of “Fools.” How does this piece embody Jessica’s cycle of foolishness?
Why does Jessica explain her past with such detail to her friend?
Why does Jessica drift away from her story to consider the coast? Why does the playwright capitalize “Ocean”?
Why is the other character in this scene silent?
What does this piece say about who we are in the past vs. present?
 
 

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