Feeding on Light
Written & Directed by Lenora Champagne
Cast (In order of appearance)
Christen Clifford / Nora
Monique Robinson / Simone Weil
Paula McGonagle / Katherine
Siobhan Petersen / Production Stage Manager
Miles Miranda / Assistant Stage Manager
Keaton Comiskey / Sound Designer
I approach Feeding on Light with trepidation.
Simone Weil is a challenge to present, not least because she wanted people to focus on her ideas, rather than her life. But her life is as fascinating as her ideas are demanding. Her mother remarked that it was hard to have a daughter who was a saint.
I was asked to write this play by Katherine Owens, a friend, director and supporter of my work, and Founding Artistic Director of Undermain Theatre in Dallas. We met in New York City and upstate, to discuss the project and work on it together. She was happy for me when I was awarded a residency fellowship to work on the play in France. In summer 2019, I was deeply involved in re-reading Weil’s biography and her work, which had fascinated me some years ago, when I learned that Katherine had died. She was only 61, and I’d had no idea that she was ill. She only knew she was ill a short time herself, and had thought she would recover.
So the play, slight as it is, has been heavy to carry. The gravity of Simone’s life and work and Katherine’s early death weigh on me. A striver myself, I have tried to take to heart the exhortation to wait for the light, to humbly hope for grace to somehow li these words to a place of joy.
The play Feeding on Light includes quotations and paraphrases of words by and about Simone Weil.
Creative Team Profiles
Christen Clifford Selected ACTOR: New York- The Public, Classic Stage Company, PS 122, HERE, OHIO Theatre, Dixon Place. SOLO: 17 Guys I F***ed, BabyLove (Winner Best of Fringe SFFF and NYFF), What I Know About My Parents’ Sex Life, Cancer A Love Story. WRITER: The Guardian, Hyperallergic, Filmmaker. ARTIST: Project for Empty Space, New Museum, LACE. @cd_clifford christenclifford.info
Paula McGonagle is a member of Ripe Time Theatre Company; productions include “Candidate X”, “Sleep”, Septimus and Clarissa”, “Fire Throws”, “Betrothed” and “Innocents”. As a founding member of Gabrielle Lansner & Co. she collaborated and performed in over a dozen productions. She has performed at Trinity Repertory Theatre, Harvard Summer Dance, EST, NYTW , Playwrights Horizon and LaMama. Paula is a teaching artist and has been awarded a teaching grant from the Jerome Robbins Foundation. Thank you all who worked so hard on this production!
Monique A. Robinson is a multi-hyphenated artivist, doing work primarily in Theater, Film and TV. But in life, Monique is a healer, who uses the art of storytelling as a way to hold space for others. Handles: Twitter and Instagram: @NiqueRobinson
Keaton Comiskey is a Purchase College Music Conservatory alumni currently based out of Long Island. His recent Sound Design credits include Dance Nation, Bastille Day, Fen, and A Robot Wrote This. He would like to thank his friends for their endless support and the Purchase community for continually allowing him to create.
Siobhan Petersen (They/Them) is a Schenectady, NY native, and a senior stage manager. Feeding on Light is their 2nd show as a PSM. Previously they worked on Subliminal (PSM), Marisol (SM), and Helen (SM). Siobhan would like to thank their family for supporting them through this crazy journey, and Bill Ziskin for setting them on this path.
Lenora Champagne is an American playwright, performing artist, and director. She is Kempner Professor of Theatre and Performance at Purchase College. Her fellowships, awards, and commissions are from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, and others. She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Bogliasco Foundation, and Maison Dora Maar. She was in Japan in 2012-13 on a Fulbright Fellowship.
She is the author of New World Plays (2015) and French Theatre Experiment Since 1968 (1984), editor of Out from Under: Texts by Women Performance Artists (1993), and has contributed to Plays and Playwrights (2009), Performance Research, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Chain, and The Iowa Review, among other publications. Through “Look What She Did”, she recently offered video commentary on Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), who captured the first-ever image of DNA.
About the Conservatory of Theatre Arts
In our teaching and art, the Conservatory values inclusiveness, equality, and excellence. Upholding all of our training is our aim to train and graduate citizen artists: multifaceted people with a strong sense of purpose in approaching an arts education.
What is a citizen artist? Citizen artists seek to discover how their unique voices can contribute to our world. They understand what it means to be an artist, and what they are here on earth to say and do and make.
The Conservatory trains future citizen artists in three degree programs:
BFA Actor Training. The BFA is an intensive professional training program offered to a highly select and diverse group of students. The professional training is anchored in four years of study in acting, voice, speech, and movement, complemented by offerings in dramatic literature and analysis, history of the theatre, stage combat, improvisation, mask work, acting for the camera, and the business of acting. As one of five schools in the Consortium of Professional Theatre Training Programs, Purchase is one of a handful of colleges in the world capable of training artists at this level—and of drawing a faculty from the ranks of professional theatre
BFA in Theatre Design/Technology. Emphasizing studio and classroom training, our professional training program in theatre design/technology gives students the guidance and support of established and theatre industry professionals. Many of our alumni are recognized at the top of their field, and have received Tony, Emmy, Obie, and Drama Desk Awards, among other honors. Quite literally, Purchase grads are working in or have worked in every theatre on Broadway, in all tristate venues, and with countless touring productions
BA program in Theatre and Performance. From traditional theatre to cutting-edge interdisciplinary work, the theatre and performance major encourages creativity, intellectual curiosity, social engagement, and critical thinking. The core requirements combine scholarship and practice to provide students with a strong foundation in theatre history and dramatic literature, with mandatory stagecraft/production courses. Theatre and Performance majors are encouraged to expand the scope of their education by studying abroad, as well as pursuing coursework in other programs of study within the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Purchase College.