for/word theater presents local premiere

In the early 1900s, St. Louis' Pearl Curran caused a bit of a fuss and helped spur a renewed national interest in spiritualism while also creating a cottage industry for herself courtesy Patience Worth, who was either a spirit channeled via an Ouija board, the creation of a bored and/or troubled mind or a clever marketing scheme.

Playwright and Ohio State professor Jennifer Schlueter's for/word company examines this story without taking sides in “Patience Worth,” a production that employs archival documents, including published material credited to Patience, as well as enhanced technology created in partnership with OSU's Advanced Center for Computing Arts and Design.

“I have no personal belief in a spirit plane, but Pearl believed it and those around her either believed it or had so much invested in it. That dynamic is what the play grows out of,” Schlueter said. “I'm interested in uncertainty. [The script] allows many roads through for audience members. It sort of oscillates, and there's a real push-pull to all of that.”

In addition to traditional theater tech, the production employs facial motion capture and projection to create a “rich visual environment,” Schlueter said.