Thrive, Or What You Will

Okay so this is a story about a gender-nonconforming 18th-century herb woman who’s trying to carve out a larger sense of space… and ends up on a journey around the world. Her name was Jeanne Baret, and nearly everything we know about her life comes from the journals of the men who knew her. An epic tale of historical fiction about our country's present moment, THRIVE, OR WHAT YOU WILL blends the style and...
Okay so this is a story about a gender-nonconforming 18th-century herb woman who’s trying to carve out a larger sense of space… and ends up on a journey around the world. Her name was Jeanne Baret, and nearly everything we know about her life comes from the journals of the men who knew her. An epic tale of historical fiction about our country's present moment, THRIVE, OR WHAT YOU WILL blends the style and language of our past & present in order to interrogate the nature of "discovery" and its legacy, of (mis)categorizing the world, of species and survival, of status and privilege, of gender and identity, and of the subjective nature of both history and self. Funny, gripping, poignant, and wild, THRIVE mourns the loss of Jeanne's perspective and tries to imagine possibilities of what it may have been. And as Jeanne journeys and changes, so too does her casting in this ensemble-driven quest of self-determination. Meanwhile, we watch Jeanne and her companion Commerson on their adventure – from meeting to parting – across lands & seas & 6,000 plants – in a voyage that is part love story, part Peer Gynt journey, part Latin taxonomy, part feminist wrestling with historiography, and part theatrical celebration of awe and the human need to thrive.

And here's the story teaser:
Jeanne Baret is an 18th century gifted botanist named who grew up laboring in the fields of rural France. While working in the fields, a 20-year-old Jeanne meets a 32-year-old botanist with a chronic leg abscess; his name is Phillibert Commerson. He's been university-trained by Linnaeus himself. She's been field-trained by herb women. They're a botanical power couple. They fall in love. He's already married. Things happen. Babies happen. Moving happens. Illness happens. The dawn of binomial nomenclature happens. And an opportunity to join a French ship on an expedition around the world happens: the voyage is in need of a botanist and an assistant, but both must be men….
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Thrive, Or What You Will

Recommended by

  • InterAct Theatre Company:
    7 Jan. 2019
    InterAct Theatre Company developed THRIVE, OR WHAT YOU WILL as part of our 6th Annual Core Playwrights Weekend in December 2018. L's thoughtfulness, wit and keen theatrical mind is on full display in this sweeping text interrogating privilege and identity in history and its legacy. We are proud to have contributed to the development of this piece.
  • Emma Goldman-Sherman:
    17 Dec. 2018
    Definitely makes it into my top 10 plays for the year! Feldman manages to to give us the entire world (and its taxonomy) in her epic opus that is filled with great moments, surprises, drama, passion and always exposes the hypocrisy of "Western Civilization" mining it for comedy with her very large heart.
  • Eugene O'Neill Theater Center:
    25 Sep. 2018
    It is the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's pleasure to recommend L M Feldman and their play Thrive, Or What You Will as a finalist for our 2018 National Playwrights Conference. The play rose through a competitive, anonymous, multileveled selection process that took nearly nine months to execute. As one of 53 finalists out of more than 1,4200 submissions, the strength of its writing has allowed this work to prosper in such a competitive selection process.

Development History

Awards

Honorable Mention
,
The Kilroys List
,
2019
Finalist
,
O'Neill National Playwrights Conference
,
2018