A Note from Playwright Whitney Rowland

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The ensemble cast of Wayfinding.

I wrote the original draft of Wayfinding in the summer of 2016, when I was between my first and second years of an MFA at Carnegie Mellon. It was to be my final thesis play – a perfect little showcase of my newly polished dramatic voice. You know, no pressure. So I spent the first half of that summer hunting for ideas. I read books. I saw performances. I wandered through museums and parks and malls and airports. Lots and lots of airports. I’d been fortunate enough to be invited to several cross-country conferences and festivals that summer and, given the fact that I was a poor student artist, that meant my flights had some exceptionally long layovers.

I was on my way to Alaska, trapped in the Seattle airport for twelve hours. I couldn’t find anywhere comfortable to sleep, so I popped in my earbuds and cued up a podcast: 99% Invisible, Episode 126: “Walk This Way.” It was all about how architecture can be used as a modern wayfinding tool. Counters at an angle. Patterns in the tile. Angles in the skylights. All of it working together like an invisible hand, subtly steering people toward their destinations.

I thought this was fascinating. And since I had 11 more hours to burn, I decided to do a little experiment. I planted myself in a central space in the terminal, turned off my mind, and just let the space tell me where to go. I spent hours in this pursuit, wandering halls and weaving through crowds, usually ending up at a Starbucks or Sbarro. But the exercise became a kind of walking meditation on fate, choice, and the way our lives are constantly and invisibly shaped by the circumstances that surround us. From that concept, this play was born.

In the years since, Wayfinding has seen several huge rewrites, bringing the script to its current state: a darkly funny, full-of-heart, melancholic comedy. I sincerely hope you enjoy watching this play as much as I’ve enjoyed developing it with the brilliant artists here at Synchronicity.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving life to this weird little new work.

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Whitney Rowland

 

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