The Ordeal of Water

1978. The first two female longshoremen at the Port of Los Angeles are trapped by their male co-workers in the cargo hold of a container ship just as it is heading to Shanghai. As they struggle to survive, they are visited by witches, who both help them and test them.

This play is inspired by the first women to work at the Port of Los Angeles as Longshoremen. The play is a work of fiction. The...
1978. The first two female longshoremen at the Port of Los Angeles are trapped by their male co-workers in the cargo hold of a container ship just as it is heading to Shanghai. As they struggle to survive, they are visited by witches, who both help them and test them.

This play is inspired by the first women to work at the Port of Los Angeles as Longshoremen. The play is a work of fiction. The characters and story are a product of the playwright's imagination.
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The Ordeal of Water

Recommended by

  • Playwrights Foundation:
    24 Apr. 2020
    Playwrights Foundation congratulates THE ORDEAL OF WATER as a Finalist for BAPF 2020. This play rose to the top 35 out of 735 plays submitted, and was discussed at length by our Bay Area Literary Council for consideration in our season. We loved how this play uses the language of theater to illuminate challenging perspectives and compelling intersectional questions. This play ultimately moved & inspired us and spoke to the core mission of PF. We hope that once we’re allowed to return to our theaters again, it will be considered for production to reach new audiences.
  • Lisa Dillman:
    21 Jan. 2020
    This is a beautiful, lyrical play that slams the past right up against the present with rewarding results. Its jumping-off point is high stakes and the tension doesn't ever let up. Full of vibrant characters and terrific life-or-death conflict, it packs in a bit of mayhem, a bit of magic, and whole lot of insight into issues women have had to face down through the ages. It's this kind of richness that makes Stephanie Alison Walker a playwright whose work I always follow.
  • Abbey Fenbert:
    9 Sep. 2019
    The Ordeal of Water creates a powerful sense of wonder and magic weighted by real stakes and relatable struggles. The script is lively, careening from its first fraught moment to its final image with humor, richly layered dialogue, sudden shifts in tone and a succession of miracles. As it toys with time and the elements, it stays grounded in the lived experience of two singular women from a specific era and place. The breadth, detail and energy of this play make it thrilling and memorable.

Character Information

  • RAY ROSAS
    24,
    Mexican American
    ,
    Female
    The first female longshoreman at the Port of Los Angeles. She inherited her father's union book after he died. She is tough and doesn't take shit from anyone. Over the last two years she has learned how to survive as a woman in a man's world on the waterfront. Second generation Mexican American. Only child. Private, keeps to herself and holds her cards close to her chest.
  • MARGO STRAND
    20,
    White
    ,
    Female
    Poet turned longshoreman after inheriting her deceased father's union book. Comes from a long line of longshoremen. Girlie girl with blonde Farrah Fawcett hair. Part hippie, part disco.
  • THEMA OKOH
    50s,
    Black African
    ,
    Female
    Ghanaian woman from the Gambaga witch camp (in Northern Ghana.) A widow and mother who was accused of being a witch and exiled to the Gambaga witch camp. She is a survivor.
  • SUNITA LAL
    30s,
    Indian
    ,
    Female
    Indian woman from Gujarat accused of being a witch when she was unable to have a child. She lives in the shadows. She's a survivor.
  • ELSE KNUTSTADDER
    30s,
    Norwegian
    ,
    Female
    Norwegian woman from 1617 accused of being a witch and put to the Ordeal of Water during the Vardo Witch Trials.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Playwrights Union - First Peek Reading Festival- Los Angeles, CA
    ,
    2019

Awards

Finalist
,
Local Lab 2020
,
Local Theatre - Boulder, CO
,
2020