Appropriately ambitious in its response to the tragic events of The Siege of Waco,There’s A City in My Mind is a multi character play offering a vast array of voices ranging over a hundred years of Branch Davidian history from prophets to poets to pregnant teenagers. Far from an official account of events, this is a dramatic evocation of daily life inside ‘the Anthill’.

Synopsis

On the rolling prairie of central Texas, an international community of believers prepares for the end of the world. There’s A City In My Mind is an exploration of the faith, fear and fantasy that fatally bound a people together in the face of public hostility and government contempt.

“On February 28, 1993, viewers across the globe glanced at their television sets, and were provoked or intrigued by the documentary footage that passed across their screens. In an attempt to arrest one man, Vernon Wayne Howell, aka David Koresh, federal law enforcement agents, dressed in combat gear, had assaulted a large wooden residence near Waco, Texas—scaling its walls, breaking its windows, throwing gre­nades inside. It was as if the agents had gone to war.

Equally startling, the inhabitants of the building, known as Mt. Carmel, had fired back. Videotape showed the federal raiders in a rout, loading their dead onto the hoods of civilian vehicles. Not only had a seeming war broken out in America, but the gov­ernment appeared to have lost.

On April 19 – following a seven-week siege – Mt. Carmel rapidly burned to the ground, folding the lives of 76 men, women, and children into its flames. A comparable tragedy had never been played out, live and in living color, over global TV. The event was a national sensation …”

From The Ashes of Waco by Dick J Reavis, 1995

Playwright’s Note

There’s a city in my mind

come along and take that ride 

and it’s all right baby it’s all right.

And it’s very far away

but it’s growing day by day

and it’s all right baby it’s all right.

Would you like to come along

you can help me sing this song

and it’s all right baby it’s all right.

They can tell you what to do

but they’ll make a fool of you

and it’s all right baby it’s all right.

Talking Heads, The Road to Nowhere

It is very nice if you are poor and not humble … to bring your enemies down to utter destruction, while you yourself rise up to grandeur. And nowhere does this happen so splendiferously than in Revelation.

D H Lawrence, Apocalypse

 

Li’l David was small but oh my,

He fought big Goliath

Who lay down and dieth

Li’l David was small but oh my …

De things dat yo’ liable to read in de Bible

It ain’t necessarily so …

Ira Gershwin, Porgy and Bess

 

First staged in the year which marked the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible and 150 years since the outbreak of the American Civil War; There’s A City In My Mind explores the hostility that can erupt between fundamentalist communities and their neighbours. It is not my first attempt to depict the struggle Bible Literalists face in a secular world. Or in this instance, perhaps it’s we who struggle most? How does one rationalize the mentality of a people who were willing to lay down their lives for a man most of us would readily identify as (at best) a charlatan, (at worst) a sociopath?

There’s a City In Mind contains a fair share of accurate information about David Koresh and the long and complex history of the so-called ‘Branch Davidians’, but I am not in the end interested in adding to the reams of internet pages dedicated to conspiracy theories and apportioning blame. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe Mount Carmel was the compound of a cult, but rather the home of a church – one with an increasingly disturbing theology, but still a church – and the play is an attempt to understand how ‘ordinary citizens’ might find themselves in such a place, at such a time.

Vernon Howell (Koresh) is, if anything, less colourful than the female prophets that preceded him and ultimately I found their voices of more interest dramatically (his dogma was essentially a paraphrasing of their scriptural interpretations of the KJV after all.)

For what it’s worth, it is true that Koresh cited a newspaper article that reported a Russian space station’s periodic sighting of ‘angelic beings’ – confirming, as he saw it, his claim that at that very time angels were transporting Koresh himself back and forth to their heavenly galaxy …

Production History

American Theatre Arts, Rose Theatre, Rose Bruford College, London, May 2011

 

CAST
THE ‘ANTHILL’ COMMUNITY
Claudette, JADE MONET
Leonie, KATIE CRUZ
Erin, CHARLOTTE EMILY HARDICK
Abigail, HANNAH COLE
Ruth, MARIA SIMMONDS
Sarah-Beth, VIOLET KELLY
Dorothy, ANNA MAGGA
Sophia, CLAIRE SHARPE
Stephanie, ELLA BYRD
James, SUMARLIðI INGIMARSSON
Theo, DAVID SHOPLAND
Thomas, LAURENCE ALLISTON
Andrew, CALLUM HUGHES

THE PROPHET
As a boy (1978) LAURENCE ALLISTON
As a young man (1981) CALLUM HUGHES

THE PROPHETESSES
Ellen G White (1840s), LAURA-LEIGH NEWTON
Florence Houteff (1950s), STELLA-MAY HERON
Lois Roden (1980s), SHEREEN ROUSHBAIANI

THE FANTASY
The Girl on the Porch, JENNIFER JOHNSON
Svetlana, a cosmonaut (1985), ANNA MAGGA
Oksana, a translator (1985), ELLA BYRD

THE PRODUCTION TEAM
Director, STEVEN DYKES
Musical Director, ANDREW FRIESNER
Designer, LIZ ESSEX
Lighting Designer, MICHAEL CASCARINO
Sound Designer, JOHN COYLE

GALLERY


American Theatre Arts, Rose Theatre, Rose Bruford College, May 2011

Comments

There’s A City in My Mind

  • Categories: Cast size 8 or more / Contemporary / Period
  • Cast : 15 women, 6 men (doubling possible)
  • Setting: Texas, 1993
  • Running Time: 2hrs 30min
  • Characters:
  • Scripts:
    • There’s A City in My Mind (ePub digital script)

      There’s A City in My Mind (ePub digital script) - £0.00


      Add to cart
    • There’s A City in My Mind (rehearsal script)

      There’s A City in My Mind (rehearsal script) - £50.00


      Add to cart
  • Performance Licence: Rights Currently Available.
    Non-exclusive Student/Amateur/Unwaged Professional:
    £60/$100 per performance.
    Territory Exclusive Waged Professional:
    Royalty on application.
    N.B. All licences require one purchase of the authorised rehearsal script.

    Apply for a Performance Licence

Related Plays