English major Cecilia Corrigan C’10 describes the plot of her new play, Memorial Day, as “very simple.” You know, just your average tale of a brother and sister who are sucked into a “crazy conspiracy situation” and participate in “various events that lead to a massive apocalyptic war.”
“I would say it’s a very ‘now’ fairy tale,” she adds. “It’s basically a story I constructed from a lot of things I thought were beautiful or funny or strange in action and sci-fi movies, which I think are usually so unintentionally funny.”
The third in Corrigan’s holiday trilogy, Memorial Day combines live performance with video “news reports” and carefully culled quotations on the subject of patriotism and nationhood. Corrigan describes this as a “collage of influences,” noting that the play features words from Ann Coulter alongside those of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The play made its stage debut last night in Houston Hall, and will be performed there again tonight; on May 15 at the Raven Lounge (1718 Sansom St.); on May 21 at the Avant Gentlemen’s Lodge (4028 Filbert St.); and on May 22 at Cycle Studios (2212 Sepviva St.). “It’ll be cool to see how the set and the performance come across in different atmospheres,” she says. “I’m hoping that the play makes people think about their own notions of what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘America’ and what there is to be patriotic about. I think that by performing the show in a lot of different spaces, it might bring out that distinction between the perceived idea of America and the actual idea of America, which are two very different things.
Corrigan credits the grants she received from Arts & the City Year and the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing with financing her play’s “really beautiful set” — and with giving her the opportunity to pay her actors. “I’ve never been able to pay my actors before,” she adds. “It just feels good to show people that you really respect their time and are treating them professionally.”
And as for that looming, inevitable question asked of all seniors this time of year — “What are your post-graduation plans?” — Corrigan now has an answer: She’ll be heading out to L.A. to apprentice with David Milch, a 2010 Writers House Fellow who read her Memorial Day script and some of her short stories and liked them so much that he asked her to come work for him. As Corrigan put it: “I’m going to get paid to write for the first time in my life!”