ESPA Drills presents: Moonshine by Liz Appel

Primary Stages ESPA Drills is an annual new play development program providing extensive workshopping, a public presentation, and advocacy within the theater community for four new plays written at least in part at Primary Stages ESPA. A staged reading of Moonshine by Liz Appel will be held on Monday, October 2 at 2:00pm.

Liz Appel

What is your play about?

After their world is suddenly cracked open by a moment of violence, Wolf and Rooster are on the run. Alone, in the dark, and desperate to start a fire that will keep away the night, memory becomes a battleground as the brothers struggle to survive in the wilderness of their new world and each other.

What inspired your play? How did you go about the research process?

I’d say that this play comes out of a deep love for two other plays: Suzan-Lori Parks’s Topdog/Underdog and Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs.  Both plays are two-handers, visceral and explosive, the kind of theater that grabs you by the collar and won’t let go. Both plays experiment with form, particularly with language; both sets of characters seem to have a language of their own making, totally unique to their respective worlds. Both plays also feature souls trapped in sealed worlds: Booth’s tiny apartment in Topdog/Underdog, and Pig and Runt’s shared imaginary kingdom playing out alongside, but separate from, the very real city of Cork in Disco Pigs. Both plays also look at what happens when these private worlds are blasted open and the outside world comes rushing in.

I’m particularly interested in the sibling relationship, how unique it is. I think of siblings as the holders of each other’s childhoods, as each other’s ultimate witnesses. It’s like they keep the vanishing time of childhood alive for each other. This is quite an amazing and complicated burden. What does it mean to carry the past for someone else? Are there parts of ourselves we’ve stowed away in other people for safe keeping? Can we ever reclaim these parts or are they lost to us forever? What happens when different versions of history collide? Can denying a memory be an act of love?

On that note, and tying it all together, I think both Topdog/Underdog and Disco Pigs are finally and profoundly about love. There’s a moment early in Disco Pigs when Runt turns to Pig and says: “Wa colour’s love, Pig?”

And this puts the focus squarely on what the play is about: how to understand love, how to get it, how to keep it, what it feels like when it’s lost.

Love. Tiny word. Casts great shadows.

These are some of the questions I’m trying to explore in Moonshine.


Primary Stages ESPA Drills will be held on October 2 and 3, 2017 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. All readings are free and open to the public. Visit our website for a full list of readings and to RSVP.

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