Description: A teenage railroad-punk, a strange middle-aged man, and a road-trip across America: what begins as a chance encounter turns into a wild and unpredictable quest in search of True Love.
First Produced: 2012
Date Added: 10/8/2013
Content Advisory: The play does contain strong language. Although there is adult content (sexuality, prostitution, mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse), these themes are implied rather than explicitly represented.
Coming of Age ·
Gay and Lesbian ·
Pop Culture ·
Child Abuse ·
Single Set ·
Many Locations ·
Sickness and Mental Illness ·
Art and Artists ·
Drug Use and Abuse ·
Dysfunctional Families ·
Characters are Mostly Married/With Families ·
Gender and Sexuality ·
Literature and Writing ·
Mostly Female Characters ·
Large Cast Size
2 Acts, 110 Minutes
7 Females, 1 Male
Landscape With Missing Person is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to Rochelle at email@example.com.
From the Author:
In concrete terms, I began with the single image of a raggedy, middle-aged man standing on a dusty street corner staring up at the sky. I'm not sure where the image came from or why it captivated me, but writing the play became the means of finding out who this strange man was and what had brought him to this point of extreme vulnerability. This is important insofar as it aligns the writer's desire with that of the protagonist (Rachel), and in turn with the audience's own. But from a different point of view, what the play reflects is my life-long fascination with the central themes of Don Quixote, the novel by Miguel de Cervantes. In some respects (e.g. the motif of the mismatched pair, the episodic journey, the picaresque hero) the play might be seen as a contemporary adaptation--ableit a very loose one--of the novel. Perhaps "variation" would be a better term. In any event, Cervantes hauntes the play in a number of ways, and anyone interested in producing the play would do well to familiarize him or herself with the novel. But above all, I would draw attention to the fundamental ambiguity of the play: from a certain (clinical) perspective, Don may be mentally ill, but at the same time, he is beautifully and courageously sane. He is the only character in the play who sees people for who they are, without passing judgment on them, and who is strong enough to perceive the world with the eyes of the imagination. Does this make him a saint? No: he is a very flawed human being, whom no one should envy. But his particular form of suffering is also a window into a more intense, more alive, more spiritually aware way of being in the world.
It is important that all of the minor characters be played by a single female actor: this relates to the central theme of the play, and is supported at certain points by the dialogue itself. Moreover, the scenes are constructed in such a way as to make this possible from a practical (and particularly from a costuming) point of view.
The play was written with a specific theatre in mind: The Magnetic Theatre's original performance space at 376 Depot Street in Asheville, NC. This theatre was a small (approx. 65 seat) blackbox that tended to focus audience attention, almost like the frame of a camera. It was also extremely constraining from a technical point of view. I say this by way of explaining a certain peculiarity of the play, which many audience members (in our experience at The Magnetic Theatre) found to be cinematic quality. ("It was like watching a movie.") There's a certain truth to this: the language of the play (particularly in the dialogue between Rachel and Don) is at least as expressive through its gaps and silences as through its surfaces. Everything else in the production--the acting, the directing, the design elements--should be rooted in this essential minimalism. All should conspire to support the audience in calibrating their attention to the small, the elided, the glimpsed; in short, to the significant detail. Any element that is out of proportion to this essential modesty will destroy the dynamic of the ply. In other words: Less is More.
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Original Production Information
Landscape With Missing Person had its world premiere on August 4, 2012 at The Magnetic Theatre in Asheville, North Carolina with the following cast and crew:
Lisa Miguel Smith
Director: Steve Samuels
Producer: Chall Gray
Lighting design: Jason Williams
Set design and construction: Don Baker
Sound design: Mary Zogzas
Costume design: Laura Tratnik
Stage manager/Props master: Rodney Smith
Assistant stage manager: Madison Smith
In a year that has seen many more than its share of dystopic and apocalyptic
visions on stage, it is a breath of fresh, clear, cool air to discover John
Crutchfield's stunning new play Landscape With Missing Person, a luminous
but quiet celebration of the power of the human spirit and of love. It's
presented at FringeNYC by Asheville, North Carolina's Magnetic Theatre, in a
production of spare and stately beauty directed by Steven Samuels. It deserves
to be a gigantic hit at this year's festival and beyond: I wish it a long and
The play begins at a bus stop in a town in North Carolina. Here we meet
Rachel, a teenage runaway whose foul-mouthed attitude and expansive fearlessness
may or may not come naturally. She encounters at the bus stop a man of middle
age and melancholy aspect who appears to be simply staring straight ahead at
nothing. She engages him in conversation, or at least tries to, but he's pretty
un-forthcoming. She sings him a rowdy ditty, accompanying herself on the ukulele
that seems to be her only possession. Eventually she learns that his name is
Don, and that he has just been deserted by his wife. He thinks he will go to San
Francisco, where he believes she now is. Rachel, intrigued and with no real
plans of her own other than to maybe go to Portland, Oregon, asks if she can
come along. Surprisingly—or perhaps not—Don agrees.
And so their adventure on the road begins. I am using the word adventure very
specifically here: the scenes that follow take Don and Rachel to a variety of
locales, all startling in both their ordinariness and their capacity nonetheless
to yield up astonishing people for them to meet and astonishing tales for them
to discover. They befriend a roadhouse diner waitress named Maureen, a rural
Illinois police rookie named Marge, and a loquacious lady of the evening named
Cathy, among others. It struck me how much more we learned about each of these
disparate strangers than about the relatively impenetrable Don and Rachel. Don,
in particular, seems to have a gift for bringing people out of themselves, and
bringing the best out of them; he's the kind of guy that, notwithstanding his
quiet demeanor, somehow seems to leave the people he meets better than when he
Landscape's subtitle is "A Comedy About Finding What Your Didn't Know
You Were Looking For." I won't tell you whether Don finds his wife or not, or
what it is that Rachel finds or doesn't find on her trip. I will tell you that
the journey is rarefied, until it isn't; and that witnessing it is an enlarging
and uplifting experience. This is due not only to the excellence of
Crutchfield's script, which brims with wisdom and humor and deliciously colorful
examples of Southern and Midwestern speech, but also to Samuels' production and
the performances of a top-notch cast, all of which add up to as close to
perfection as theater ever gets. Crutchfield himself stars as Don, full of
reserve with unresolved passion well beneath the surface. As Rachel, Lisa Miguel
Smith is luminous and brash and endlessly complicated; as we get closer to this
young woman, we see the strengths and the deep vulnerabilities that have brought
her to this place in her life. Jennifer Gatti is the third and final cast
member, delivering nothing less than a tour de force as the aforementioned three
strangers along with three others. Laura Tratnik's costumes work wonders to help
Gatti transform herself quite magnificently into each of these remarkable women.
Samuels' staging is wonderfully simple. The set, designed by Shaun
Kato-Samuel, consists of just a few versatile pieces that are reconfigured to
create a variety of locales, from bus stop to restaurant to the side of a lonely
highway where Don's car has broken down. The transitions between the scenes,
underscored by Mary Zogzas' subtle and evocative sound design, are sheer magic:
with grace and elegance, they gradually transport us from one vignette to the
next, allowing time for the moment just past to sink in and for the moment to
come to materialize.
Crutchfield and Samuels had an award-winning show, The Songs of Robert,
at FringeNYC 2009. Landscape with Missing Person is an eminently worthy
successor, and absolutely deserves to be on your list of must-see shows at this
reviewed at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival
Landscape With Missing Person
Seriously, Don. How long have you been here?
I don’t know. A couple of days? What day is it?
You’ve never lived on the street before, have you.
On the street?
‘Cause, dude, you can’t just stand around and not know what day it is and not eat. You won’t last a week. You’ll get beat up or something.
Huh. Well, so far no one’s paid that much attention to me.
But don’t you have like, an apartment or something?
I have a house. That’s sort of like an apartment.
Then why not go back there?
I can’t go back there.
Okay…Well, do you at least have a car?
I have a car.
Where is it?
Over at the Wal-Mart.
That’s where I left it, yeah.
Don’t worry about me.
Want some chips?
(She sits down next to him, pulls out a bag of chips, starts munching them.)