3 m, 3 w. Approximate running time 2 hrs
When an invitation arrives to visit Çatalhöyük (Chatalheuyuk) - a 9000-year old Neolithic settlement in Anatolia – Joan, once a respected archeologist but now disgraced and discredited, is both curious and unsettled. Joan’s friend Alice, site director of the dig, invites her to lead the human remains team, and Joan has to re-examine her past, her insecurity, and her passions. Chatal is a story of discovery and ambition driven by ancient burials, sexual politics and philosophy.
I contemplated writing about archaeology for many years but never found the right hook. Four years before I finished the first draft of this play I ran into what I would call a playwright's treasure trove. The excavation at Çatalhöyük (Tchatalheuyuk,) a 9000-year-old Neolithic settlement in central Turkey is perhaps the most extensive and meticulously documented dig in archaeological history. Materials dating back to 1993 - diaries, research papers, photos and videos - are all available for public consumption online.
This was a bear of a play. Four years of research - scholarly papers/books, archaeologits' diaries, videos and interviews.
I traveled to Berkeley to meet with several archaeologists who worked on the site. Lorie Hager, Burcu Tung and the amazing Ruth Tringham who became a dear friend and mentor.
I also visited the site in 2012 and spent an inspiriting week observing and witnessing the work. Wonderful.
At times I thought I'd never write this play. There were days of despair and desperation but also moments of insight and revelation. Big challenge and big fun.
The premiere presentation of the play was at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, July 1914, following a two week workshop.