The Far End of the Earth
Cast in order of appearance:
Annie – Early 60s; in good health, cantankerous, colorful, clear-headed, and pretty much content at this point in her life…except for her relationship with her daughter, Gayle.
Gayle – 37; Cynical, determined, conflicted; sick of fighting her life, and worried about her daughter, Jo.
Jo – (Joanne) 15; Bright, curious and headstrong; just beginning her journey towards knowledge, understanding, acceptance and wisdom.
Note: In the Wiccan Tradition, the trinity consists of the maiden, the mother and the crone.
Annie is an iconoclast and a practicing Pagan witch, whose home is an isolated cabin high in the Cascade Mountains of Western Washington. Here she lives a hermit’s life, writes a little, and considers herself guardian of one of the last privately owned old growth forests in western Washington.
One morning, Gayle walks into Annie’s homestead unannounced-the first time she has set foot on the property since she was 18. This is no casual visit. Gayle feels that she is nearing the end of her rope with her daughter, Jo, and has come to ask her mother for help. She’s not after advice or encouragement; she wants money to help pay the costs of Jo’s college education. Gayle knows that Annie has only one resource that she can tap-her trees, which she treasures.
Old tensions surface immediately and both women instinctively raise their shields; each aware that it is exactly the wrong thing to do, but unable to override defense mechanisms put into place years before. Jo enters. She and her grandmother haven’t seen each other since Jo was ten. Gayle has kept the two apart, fearing that Gayle’s eccentricities might have an adverse effect on Jo.
Though Annie professes to be the witch, Jo is the catalyst who works the healing magic. She forces Annie and Gayle to recognize how much they need each other. In the end, the healing process has begun and more natural and supportive family relationships among the three characters are beginning to develop.
Woven through the threads of this story are ideas about the fragile nature of our environment, the importance of intelligent and responsible actions in all phases of our existence, and some questions as to the limits of knee-jerk fundamental Christianity as a source of solutions to the problems that face our world today.
Contemporary. Summer-mid-July. The play is two acts-each act is continuous.
The front porch and yard of an isolated cabin high in the Cascade Mountains of western Washington. The small house-stage left-is old, but comfortable. It is simple wood frame construction, well-maintained, and the porch runs across the entire front. The porch is raised several feet off the ground, with a set of wooden steps leading up to it.
From the porch, a door leads into the house. It has a screen door, and possibly glass in the top half of the door, masked by sheer curtains. There are two or three sash windows in the front wall, also masked by sheers and with curtains on the sides. At least one of the windows is partially open.
The cabin was built at the edge of a forest of old-growth cedars on an overlook commanding the valley below. The trunks of several large cedars can be seen behind and on one side of the building. Downstage right there’s the suggestion of a rock outcropping and a cliff with a drop of a hundred feet or more. A rickety split-rail fence provides a slight safety barrier.
In front of the cabin is a pile of freshly split firewood, cut for a wood stove. More split firewood is stacked under the front edge of the porch, ready for winter use. Somewhere out of the way (at one side of the stage or upstage), there is a chopping block with rounds of wood waiting to be split.
Centerstage, in the yard is an old picnic table with a separate bench on the stage right side, and a straight-backed chair on the stage left side. On the table are journals, pens and pencils, a handful of reference books, a glass of water and a portable manual typewriter. The other bench from the picnic table (or possibly a more comfortable bench with a back) is placed stage right to take in the view from the overlook.
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“The Far End of the Earth” photographs on the website are from the production by Chelan Valley Players in Chelan, Washington. Click the photo for a full-size version.