Venus de Milo, at the Louvre
Venus de Milo, at the Louvre

Usually, with such projects, it’s customary to acknowledge, once the script is done, those who lend their talents, insights and wisdom. I feel compelled to lead with gratitude. As the work develops, this list will surely grow:


For Barbara – the Meryl Streep of the Comstock – and for Angel, sitting in the back, haunting us on.


For artistic and technical assistance, theatre maestra Ilana Lydia and brilliant playwright – master of magical realism – and generous resource, William S. Yellow Robe, Jr..

For research assistance,  Lianna Elizabeta Costantino and, via her website, Otis Amanda Dick – Mandy the Storyteller (whose celebrated, one-woman Elizabeth English Pennington living history performance is one of her myriad historical characters).

For telling me about Elizabeth “Grandma Betsy” English Pennington and suggesting she might be someone I’d want to write about, Sandra Sieg (who is a descendent of Grandma Betsy, as is Otis Amanda Dick).

For his generous contributions, insights and feedback and for being my dramaturg on this project, Gary Wright.

For their artistic GENIUS reflections, John PerovichJeremy Cole and Marcus Paul Wolland.


De Milo brings forward the character of Elizabeth English Pennington (1783-1757). In the play, the main character, Helen, is on leave from work while recovering from breast cancer. She sits alone in her kitchen contemplating suicide in the face of a mountain of medical bills and increasing feelings of alienation. We meet Angela, who sits alone on the telephone as a suicide hotline volunteer, desperately trying to keep Helen on the phone. As Helen and Angela struggle in liminal space, Pennington steps out of the ethers and challenges Helen to – at least temporarily – suspend her plans. What follows is a dynamic weaving of primitive American history and the complexities of 21st century socio-political life.

De Milo dances between devastating drama and dark comedy. Produced by Universal Access Productions, the development of this project is supported, in part, by the Living History Centre Fund, Sacramento California.