Jennifer Lynne Roberts
I was driving to work. NPR had a story about a man who applied to take a one-way journey to Mars to help colonize the planet. He was a finalist. He was also married with children. I would later learn over 200,000 people applied to leave Earth forever, leaving friends and family behind. But what immediately came to my mind was how blasé folks were in talking about this man leaving his kids and wife, like, yes, it’d cause some tension in the marriage, but no one was irate over it. In fact, perusing newspapers later that day on my lunch hour, I found many articles that treated it light-heartedly to the point of making fun of it. Imagine, I thought, if this was a woman! A woman who was leaving her children behind? She’d be persecuted. She’d be ridiculed and torn to shreds in the media. She would be everything that’s wrong in America today.
What makes it crueler, more unacceptable for a mother to make this choice over a father?
(For that matter, what makes anyone decide to take a one-way trip to Mars?http://vimeo.com/87916326)
Hence my short play, Mars One Project.
I confess, this play came quickly. I was on a mission. I started it as soon as I arrived at work, clandestinely typing on wordpad between phone calls and scheduling appointments. I had most of the dialogue complete by the time I left for lunch and finished it during my hour break. I brought it back and showed it to my co-worker who I always vet my new work with (she’s not in theater, but always ALWAYS has great insight or asks a question that makes all the difference) and she gave it thumbs up. It also spurred a conversation between us. Why would a parent leave their child? What would make a mother make this choice? Why is it worse than if a father left? Oh, and why would anyone want to leave everything behind to take a one-way trip to space anyway? What character traits would one have? Are they running from something? To something? Looking for glory? Does this act make one a hero or a villain?
I asked my protagonist all of these questions. And she answered them.
You can catch Mars One Project as part of SUPERHEROES this summer.
SUPERHEROES runs July 17, 19, 24, 31 August 2, 7, 14, 16, 21. Thursdays & Saturdays at Exit Theatre.