Written by Philip Santos Schaffer
Directed by Isabel Quinzaños Alonso
Performed by Mary Round

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BABY JESSICA’S WELL-MADE PLAY is a five-act phone adventure to the bottom of a well and back again. Loosely inspired by the 1987 true story of Baby Jessica, this highly interactive, intimate performance-for-one ushers audience members into conversations about fear, hope, self-care, imagination, culture, and memory. Over the course of two nights, audience members will discover what pulls them up and out of the dark.

Dramaturg: Anna Woodruff
Sound Design & Composition: Jorge Olivo
Stage Manager: Matt Engle
Producing Consultant: Stefanie Harris

Press: John Wyszniewski, Everyman Agency
Graphic Design: Alan Armendariz

 

Pipeline Theatre Company’s programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play is made possible by the generous support of Tiger Baron.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

We would like to express our gratitude to Senator Chuck Schumer and his staff for the creation of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, without which Pipeline could not have continued with our programming this year.

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Frequently Asked Questions!

What is the structure of BABY JESSICA’S WELL-MADE PLAY?

Based on the traditional concept of a “well made play,” Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play takes place in 5 acts. Unlike a traditional play, these five acts take place over the course of two separate performances. During Part 1, you’ll hear Acts I through III and in Part 2 you’ll hear Act IV.  (Act V is super secret and far in the future – but don’t worry, we’ll let you know when it’s coming!) 

Is this like a zoom reading? A radio drama?

This is like a phone call with an old friend who talks a lot! Over the course of the play, you will hear pre-recorded audio, and also have one-on-one conversations. While there is an existing script, which will guide these conversations, I welcome and encourage you to respond as naturally and in depth as you would like, when prompted to do so. There is room for you to talk a lot – or to talk very little, if you’re more comfortable that way! 

Do I need to attend both parts?

Yes! Not only will the performance not be complete after just Part 1, but the play is structured in such a way that Part 2 requires your presence to be complete. 

I want to see the show on Thursday night, but there aren’t any shows on Friday. When do I do Part 2?

If you purchase a Thursday ticket, instead of taking place the following evening, your next performance will be on Sunday at 2:00 pm! 

I can’t make the dates I bought tickets for. What do I do?

If you find out you can’t make your performance, please email tickets@pipelinetheatre.org. We will try to reschedule you for a later date if possible. Please let us know as soon as possible, and at least 2 hours before your performance is scheduled to begin.

I can’t make the second night – what happens?

If you can’t make Part 2 of your performance, please email tickets@pipelinetheatre.org. We will try to reschedule your performance, but cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.  

Can I do this show with my friend/loved one?

Look, I can’t control what you do and don’t do in your own home (where this play takes place). But I will say that this play is explicitly written for one person at a time, and I personally believe your experience will be distinctly diminished if you invite other people. If you do decide to go ahead and have additional audience members at your performance, please know that only one person can be the participant responding to questions – anyone else will need to listen only. 

Who is Baby Jessica?

Baby Jessica was a real person who fell in a well in 1987 in Midland Texas at just 18 months old. She was trapped for 58 hours before rescuers were able to pull her out. While I was not alive at the time (I was born in 1991), this is one of the first “viral” news stories I can remember learning about. Everyone watched live as they rescued Baby Jessica, who was for a short time referred to as “America’s Baby.” 

What do you mean when you call it a well-made play?

A “well-made play” is a term in theatre that refers to a distinct dramaturgical structure. Superficially, well-made plays are typically either 3 or 5 acts, which inspired the length of this performance. The narrative of a well-made play has the same “beats:” Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, Resolution. Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play very, very loosely plays with these plot elements – but I wouldn’t try to track that too closely. 

The play is also made, in part, by a well – as without the well Baby Jessica fell down, there would be no play! 

What does conversational theatre mean? Do I need to talk?

Throughout the course of this play, there will be moments when you are prompted to share a story, answer a question, or otherwise engage with another person. You can be as brief or as long in your answers as feels fulfilling to you – however, I would say that if you don’t want to talk at all, that may severely diminish your experience of the show (and might also make things hard for the performer). 

My goal in writing the script has been to make the invitation to participate as welcoming as possible, and the conversation that ensures enjoyable. I think you’ll like it! 

I’m concerned about privacy. Who else will be on the call with me, and will it be recorded?

Over the course of the run of Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play, you will talk to an actor, and be connected to another audience member. The only other person on the line will be the Stage Manager. This is both to run cues and ensure a smooth performance, and to monitor the performance for the safety of all involved. Performances will not be recorded unless expressly indicated as such, prior to the performance. 

If you see the show during previews, other members of the creative team may be on the line listening, in order to make any necessary adjustments to the show itself. 

I know Baby Jessica fell down a well, and I’m worried about my claustrophobia being triggered. Is this experience safe for me?

Over the course of the play, you will be asked to imagine yourself in tight and uncomfortable spaces. While my hope is that the play is primarily affirming, rather than primarily scary, if you have intense claustrophobia this may be a difficult experience! Please request to see the script if you think it will be necessary. 

I’m not always comfortable with immersive theatre – can you tell me more about how this experience will feel?

As an artist, I believe in creating pretend spaces in which real people can actively make-believe as a mode of learning about themselves (and others), and in which they are invited to share what they have learned and be celebrated in abundance. These are the feelings I hope to inspire! While this play is highly interactive, I hope it is in a way that feels inviting and affirming. 

Importantly, you will never be asked to play a character other than yourself, you are already an expert in your part of this performance! 

Throughout the course of the play, you will be provided with tools to determine the extent of your participation and ensure your emotional safety. 

If you want to know more, you can visit this piece of writing around my ethos and approach to audience interaction! 

I’m still not sure. Is there a way I can find out more information?

Yes! Email tickets@pipelinetheatre.org, and we can send you a copy of the play to read in advance. You can also ask us any additional questions.

How do I purchase tickets?

Just click here!

How do I purchase my Part 2 ticket?

It will be automatically included in your ticket! When you check out, you should automatically see an add-on that includes your second ticket. If you’re not seeing this, please contact tickets@pipelinetheatre.org and include the first date you are trying to purchase tickets for, and we’ll get back to you!

When and/or what is Act 5?  

In short, it will happen far in the future! Don’t worry – we will make sure you don’t miss it. 

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