Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 6-11-2023

Document Type

Thesis (Master's)

Department or Program

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

First Advisor

Professor Alan Lelchuk

Second Advisor

Professor Donald Pease

Third Advisor

Professor Anna Minardi


My thesis play unfolds in the wake of the pandemic we’ve collectively faced, which hovers over its dramatic landscape, but is rarely directly addressed, a narrative penumbra subtle enough to be merely suggestive, almost subliminal, even as today, in America and around the world, we navigate the pandemic’s lingering aftermath by way of our quiet struggles, individual and collective, with mental health—an insidious, one might say endemic, pandemic of its own— that we ignore at our societal peril. My mother struggled with manic depression, which inflected our fraught bond in sometimes volatile ways and may have contributed to her early death, and my father is a child Holocaust survivor, whose father’s relative unavailability was at least in part a product of recondite emotional scarring that redounded in our own relationship—though in both cases, the arc has ultimately been redemptive. Paralleling my filial experiences with mental health and generational trauma, this theatrical work refracts these ongoing interdisciplinary inquiries through both actual (Eduardo’s relationship with his mother, Julie’s with her father) and surrogate (among others, Dr. Joan Withers’ and Dr. Anya Patel’s relationships with their patients, as general practitioner and psychoanalyst, respectively) parental-filial dynamics, and through the contrapuntal lenses of two Holocaust refugees—a perpetrator, in the guise of a so-called Good German functionary not directly involved in the genocide, and a child survivor. Channeling social anthropologist Kleinman’s conception of disease as multifactorial, a manifestation of, and reaction to attritive societal exposures, and psychiatrist Engels’ complementary Biopsychosocial model, as well as my investigations around diaspora and migration—particularly the phenomenology of collective, and more specifically, cultural memory, including generational trauma’s reverberant, repercussive effect on families—this is a sprawling ensemble piece in the spirit of playwright Tom Stoppard and the filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, tracing the invisible threads that connect us all. Abidingly syncretic in its ethos, this dramatic odyssey reflects my intensely collaborative body of work as a writer, actor, performer. While vox clamantis in deserto might resonate viscerally for us as Dartmouthians, MALS alums, and in the end, merely mortal human beings, we thrive when we coexist.

Included in

Playwriting Commons