On Every Link a Heart Does Dangle; or, Owed

The town of Thebes was once the jewel of Southern Illinois, but the river has turned poisonous, the crops are failing, and pregnant women and their unborn babies are dying mysterious deaths, all while the town's leader has locked himself away, leaving the residents to cast about for answers. Suspicion falls on Mellie, a young woman born with a serious disability. Despised from birth by the gods and barely...
The town of Thebes was once the jewel of Southern Illinois, but the river has turned poisonous, the crops are failing, and pregnant women and their unborn babies are dying mysterious deaths, all while the town's leader has locked himself away, leaving the residents to cast about for answers. Suspicion falls on Mellie, a young woman born with a serious disability. Despised from birth by the gods and barely tolerated by the rest of town, it falls on her and the other women of Thebes to wrest power from the man who has led them to catastrophe in this radical reimagining of the Oedipus myth.
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On Every Link a Heart Does Dangle; or, Owed

Recommended by

  • Navida Stein:
    26 Jul. 2019
    I experienced this extraordinary play as a staged reading in May 2019 at The Lark. It was riveting, powerful and funny. Very unique storytelling of an ancient myth, resonating deeply with our societal issues. I am looking forward to it's next incarnation.
  • Timothy Thompson:
    17 Feb. 2019
    'Owed' is epic in structure and has a way of both adhering to and playfully deviating from the hero's journey and the Greek tragedy structure. The dialogue, for me, is so very exciting, poetic, active, and captivating. The characters in this play (most of them women) are complex power-houses! I cannot wait to see where this play goes next!

Character Information

  • Mellie
    18-early 20s,
    Female
    Late teens-early 20s, shy but precocious, severely disabled by a birth defect, and a boat builder with visions both imaginative and prophetic.

    Must be cast with an actor who identifies as having a disability.
  • Aga
    Early-mid 20s,
    Female
    Casta’s secretary and Mellie’s older sister, though she’s not allowed to acknowledge the relationship.
  • Casta
    Late 30s-early 40s,
    Female
    Late 30s-early 40s, the First Lady of Thebes, married to Ode.
  • Kree
    Mid 40s,
    Female
    The Defender of Thebes, older sister to Casta, advisor to Ode, a warrior trying to thrive in peacetime.
  • Zebulon
    30s,
    Male
    A golden young man, looks early 30s, feels much older.
  • Chorus Leader
    50s-70s,
    appears female
    Also plays TARE, 60s, blind, wise, some say a seer, shunned by the town; THEBAN ELDER; THE MONSTER; THE RIVER
  • Chorus 1
    Younger than Chorus 2,
    Female
    Also plays YOUNG THEBAN; MESS, a mysterious young woman with a message to deliver.
  • Chorus 2
    Older than Chorus 1,
    Female
    Also plays, ORA, late 40s, the mouthpiece of the gods, kidnapped and held captive by Missourian Mud-worshippers; NURSE .
  • Chorus 3
    Male
    Also plays THE VIGILANT; ECK, early 20s, Aga’s boyfriend; PRIEST; HERD, elderly finder of lost animals

Development History