PCS Blog

Chris Coleman’s thoughts on “Bo-Nita”

Posted by Claudie Fisher | 06 January 2014

As we prepare for the opening of Bo-Nita in our Ellyn Bye Studio, one of the many things to check off  our to-do list is the show's playbill. Artistic Director Chris Coleman has just finished writing his letter for the Bo-Nita playbill. We've decided to start sharing these letters on his blog, so you can read his thoughts on the production in advance of the performance. Enjoy!

I remember reading an article a few years ago about a study at Northwestern University about narrative.  The team of psychologists found that successful individuals tended to be able to relay their life to you as a cohesive narrative (don’t know if they tested for facts), and saw their future as a series of unfolding chapters that they were able to engage in helping create. Individuals with greater challenges in life tended to have difficulty weaving a thread through the events they had experienced, often missed chronology and viewed themselves as victims at the hands of unseen forces. Their chapters didn’t readily emerge with any kind of clarity.

And I think about the stories that most of us carry around with us – the ‘old tapes’ from our earliest relationships that can tend to shape our responses to the world today: the over-critical mother who saw nothing we could do right; the father who was oblivious to our presence on earth; the brother who told us we couldn’t sing and we're stupid; the grandmother who saw us as the angel we believed we were; the uncle who got too friendly when the family gathered – and I think about how each of us choose to work through these tapes, allowing them to run our lives, or moving beyond them and letting them go.

And I think of Bo-Nita: a 13-year-old girl who, by any social worker’s standards, has landed herself in the middle of a remarkably dysfunctional situation, but who emerges not as the victim of her story, but as the CHAMPION story-teller of her world. Not satisfied to spin a cohesive narrative, she lassos the events around her with personal grit and willpower and fashions them into a tale that leaves the hearer’s head spinning, both with the laughter of an insane situation, and with admiration for the survivor’s sheer creativity and stamina.

And I think it is this sheer dynamism and humor that first attracted me to Elizabeth Heffron’s script that we had the pleasure of developing at JAW two summers ago. We are delighted to be able to share it with you now.


Bo-Nita plays in the Ellyn Bye Studio February 1 - March 16.
Find out more about the production here.


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