The Return of the Kitchen Sisters

Visions of Healing
Fri Apr 12, 1985 - Sun Apr 28, 1985

An original play featuring guest musician Terri Quaye.

“The Return of the Kitchen Sisters is a play by and about our bodies, hearts, spirits, humor, and intelligence. The creation of this production has been a fascinating process. A true collaboration with all the conflict and joy that that entails … Together we came to understand that in a 9-person acting/ writing/ performing ensemble no one life will be shown in its completeness. What we offer are intimate glimpses – these are stories women tell each other, the jokes they share, the conversations between closest friends.

It is our intention and hope that these individual moments will give voice and visibility to many women’s experiences. Circling from the unique to the universal and back again.”

– Alice Wilson

In 1980, Women & Their Work sponsored a production at Center Stage entitled Motherstory/Motherlines, a process piece co-written, co-produced, and performed by Elota Patton, Bejou Merry, and Dalarna Armentrout. The show was well received and attended, and inspired the concept of this process piece five years later.

With Rita Starpattern of Women & Their Work, Elota Patton, Alice Wilson, and Frances Seidensticker began the planning and fundraising for Return of the Kitchen Sisters two years ago. Playwright Megan Terry of The Magic Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska, encouraged the work. Patton and Wilson began assembling a group of writers in November the year prior and met twice weekly to work on the beginnings of this process script.

The original concept was a piece about women living in their bodies in the world, dealing with addictions, compulsions, and body self-images of all kinds – stemming from fashion, childhood trauma, and other varied factors. An exploration process began.

Then, the project took a major turn. Rita Starpattern sent two women to the project, Karen Payne, a Texas-born writer now living in England, (author of Between Ourselves, Letters Between Mothers and Daughters) and dancer/ choreographer Anne Jenkins. Payne and Jenkins had been working for a year on a ritual of healing for women, and after two days of discussion, all parties decided to combine projects.

Payne stayed in the U.S. for several weeks before returning to England, and during those few weeks, made a significant contribution to the concept of Kitchen Sisters. The doors were opened to a broader, more moving concept-that people could experience terrible body traumas (and now there were writers in the group talking about sexual abuse as children, violent homes and marriages, anorexia, and many other issues) and that they could not only recover from these traumas, but could see the possibility of spiritual healing from them as well.

Payne did not return to the project from England, but she left Jenkins as actor/ choreographer/ co-project coordinator with Patton and Wilson, and the idea of bringing in internationally lauded drummer/ percussionist Terri Naakoshi Quaye as the musician/ composer/ orchestra for Kitchen Sisters. The addition of Quaye to the piece was made possible through major support from Ms. Genevieve Vaughn and Mr. Bill Cochran.

By this time, the company had sifted down to eight committed writer/ performers, and Kathleen Conlin began to direct. Ms. Conlin’s leadership contributed major shape to the staging of the piece. Unfortunately, she became ill and was unable to continue with the production. The direction was taken on by Alice Wilson, Artistic Director of ZSTC’s Project InterAct.

Between inception in 1983 and production here in April 1985, many people contributed to the completion of The Return of the Kitchen Sisters. “Without the belief and support of all of these people, this project could never have gotten beyond a dream.”