I don’t usually watch TV, but in the winter of 2009 I watched a marathon of cable documentaries that came out about girls being kidnapped. It was hour after hour over several days. It seemed like countless women had been through a similar ordeal. Many young women in the US from Texas to California were featured along with the emerging details of the Fritzl case in Austria. I found myself obsessed to the point where I had to ask myself why I was so engrossed. The answer struck me in a flash. It finally brought back to light the unusual occurrence from my own past and forced me to begin the process of reconciling how it made me into the person I am today.
When I was a child my brother and I were kidnapped by our father. My mother had to go through hell to get us back. He took us out of the country and was eventually convicted for the felony of Child Stealing. They waged war in the courts for many years. It ripped apart our community and set us apart from other children our age. It’s an element of my past that I had left in the dim memories of things I don’t talk about very often, but because of that experience I have always had a strong affinity for the Persephone Myth. I was never sexually abused by my father as was the case in Austria and in most of the cases that appeared in the news which felt like shadowy versions of the same mythical story.
As I found myself staring at the stories of these young women I kept seeing Persephone appear hauntingly from each basement underworld. It was terrifying to me that this extremely violent and sexual mythological phenomenon was seemingly everywhere. I wanted to look deeply into it, but not for the sake of truly understanding the “why?” so much as how we survive it, because the stories I saw were of women who had all in fact escaped or been rescued. These women had to be or become many things in order to survive and go on with their lives. They are the heroes and inspiration for the play.
Light of Night is an entirely fictional work and a retelling of the Persephone Myth seen through the modern context of body image, ethnic identity, and gender politics. Set in the present day United States we open on a peculiar relationship between Stephanie and her alluring Latin American next door neighbor, Isabelle, as they engage in a ritualized cat and mouse seduction. When Stephanie’s husband comes home early his arrival spoils their fun and pulls back the curtains on what’s really going on between the three of them. As each layer is unfolded the truth revealed gets darker. In the end, Stephanie has to fight through both Jim and Isabelle in order to find her way back to the light.