The play Blood Sky is ending its run at T. Schreiber Studio. I read the play in preparation for seeing it, but then a cross-country move prevented me from seeing it performed. This was a major loss, because I believe, like many plays, that Blood Sky would really come to life on stage.
This is the story of Joley, a 30-year-old woman who is recounting her experiences at 14 and 18. She is played by three different women of different ages; at times, 30-year-old Joley talks directly to the other Joleys. Young Joley lives in a rural, southern city by the Mississippi river. The town is poor and sticky hot. Joley at age 14 experiences an attack from two older boys. The attack is interrupted by a stranger, who drives the boys off and then some. His name is “Guy,” and his identity is constantly shifting during the play. He may be a sexual predator who saves Joley so that he can have her. He may be a guardian angel. Or he may be an aspect of Joley, appearing as another person in Joley 30’s memory.
Joley is highly traumatized by this attack, somewhat out of proportion to the incident we observe, creating the sense that things happen we do not observe. Is Joley 30 suppressing memory? Splitting the memory and attributing aspects of it to Guy?
We also spend time with Joley 18, who has just run away from home with Stone (another suggestively named character – does she require a “rock” to lean on while she acts?). She is emotionally lost. What does Joley want? What does she need? She doesn’t know, and at this point, Joley 30 addresses Joley 18 to try to help her. This is less about time travel (can she impact the choices of Joley 18?) and more about our adult desire to love our younger selves when we couldn’t do it then.
I haven’t seen/read other plays by this playwright, but my understanding is that most of her plays concern the impacts of national trauma on characters. This play is quite intimate in comparison, but it is still interested in how trauma impacts a person. How does it shape memory, and how does it shape actions?