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'The Water Children'

July 07, 1999

'The Water Children'By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




Playwright Wendy MacLeod strives to change the way people think.

[cont. from lifestyle]

The author of "The Water Children," one of four plays being produced at the 1999 Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, W.Va., she says her goal is to "invert the expected thinking of things" and challenge presumptions.

"I'm trying to get people to stop thinking in sort of black-and-white ways," says MacLeod in a phone interview from Los Angeles. MacLeod is writing a movie featuring Geena Davis called "Dog Years," about the shelf life of models. Shooting is to start next spring.

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Since becoming playwright-in-residence in 1990 at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, MacLeod has written "Sin" and "Schoolgirl Figure" in addition to "The Water Children."

"Schoolgirl Figure" is a comedy about anorexia, a topic she says usually is reserved for dramatic television.Continued from D1

'The Water ChildrenWhile MacLeod was considering writing "The Water Children," about an actress appearing in a pro-life commercial, she read an excerpt from William LaFleur's book "Liquid Life" about Japanese abortion rituals. There she learned about temples where women could apologize to their aborted children.

The Japanese culture acknowledged women's ambivalent feelings about abortion without threatening to take away their right to do it, MacLeod writes in an essay about "The Water Children."

Before having her two sons, who are now 3 and 6, MacLeod says she considered the abortion issue in a very matter-of-fact, scientific way. After becoming a mother, however, she gained a more spiritual view on the subject, realizing that if she would have an unplanned pregnancy now, she would have the child.

The play premiered in November 1997 in New York City.

After seeing "The Water Children," some theatergoers have felt free to confess their ambivalence about abortion, thus moving their thinking from black-and-white to gray, says MacLeod, who has been writing plays for 12 years.

"I would hope there's not a clear-cut message," MacLeod says.

MacLeod has been commissioned to write "Marriage of Minds," a play about the relationship between Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and his wife, Sylvia Plath, for the 2000 theater festival.

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