ROOTED by Deborah Zoe Laufer • directed by Justin Anderson
IN THIS OFFBEAT COMEDY, ALL IT TAKES IS TWO SISTERS AND A TREEHOUSE TO ACCIDENTALLY START A CULT.
About the Play
Plant researcher and YouTuber Emery Harris lives happily alone in a house in a tree named Mabel, surrounded by plants and supported by her overbearing sister Hazel. But when strangers begin gathering beneath Mabel, chanting, and singing, Emery learns she’s been unwittingly elected as her internet followers’ botanical, new-age messiah.
This warm-hearted comedy digs into the power of plants and the intriguing, often hilarious idiosyncrasies of people.
A Q&A with the Playwright
What inspired you to write ROOTED?
Deborah Zoe Laufer: If you search on-line for the scientist, Monica Gagliano, and her experiments with plant consciousness you’ll want to write Rooted too. Like many of my plays, Rooted was born of the same impulse I had rushing home from kindergarten to tell my mother the unbelievable thing that happened that day – my mind was blown by some new revelation, and I needed to tell the world.
Emery and Hazel have a loving yet complicated relationship. How did you go about developing who they were individually and then as they interact together?
DZL: It is a complicated relationship. Hazel has spent her entire life taking care of Emery, and Emery doesn’t seem to have any understanding or appreciation of it. They’re very much stuck together in a seemingly unsolvable situation. There’s a line in the play about mustard plants – planted side-by-side they will each spread as aggressively as they can to take up space and nutrients. But if you plant two mustard seed “sisters” together, they‘ll curl away from each other to give her sister a chance to grow and thrive. Neither Hazel nor Emery has been able to take up her space with the other in her life.
How did influencers and the power of social media become a part of the story?
DZL: Several years ago, I read an article in the New Yorker about a guru who had predicted that the Messiah was going to appear in the form of an Indian man, living in London, who would make a splash on a late-night talk show. When an Indian economist, living in London, appeared on the Colbert show, the guru’s followers had found their Messiah! And soon they were making pilgrimages to his apartment in London, as he struggled to persuade them that he wasn’t their guy. I’ve always been fascinated by peoples’ hunger for salvation, and their willingness to make great sacrifices and leaps of faith to pursue it. I think this has been compounded by the internet, where an influencer’s advice on applying makeup or choosing napkin holders can become a religion. In Rooted, salvation comes in surprising forms.
What do you hope audiences take away from the production?
DZL: I hope audiences laugh. I hope they’re moved. And I hope they have something to discuss about the yearning for meaning and belief, the struggle to be truly present, the power of female friendship, and what happens when you slow down time and allow for quiet and connection in the midst of a chaotic, sometimes frightening world.
“I loved every minute of Rooted, and, like a pea plant with its human host,
I found myself often leaning in to engage with every moment.”
—Atlanta Theatre Buzz
Artistic Director’s Note
One thing that has really changed over the past decade is how we, as humans, connect with each other and the world around us. From technological changes to endless obligations to Covid-related isolation, we’re constantly trying to adapt to the ever-changing world around us. The desire for connection is beautifully constructed in Deborah Zoe Laufer’s play, Rooted, but in a funny, entertaining, and smart way. As Laufer says, “The story embodies feelings around isolation that are particularly resonant today. The play is very alive with the longing for connection, the fear of connection, and what it takes to truly make that connection.”
We are thrilled to be able to bring back two of Atlanta’s favorite actors in the leading roles who you may remember from the much-beloved, The Waffle Palace. The chemistry between these ladies will have you laughing and crying – possibly at the same time! Newcomer (to Atlanta and Horizon!) Jade’ Davis balances the cast with her hilarious enthusiasm and naiveté as her character (Luanne) unwittingly disrupts the sister’s world.
We thank you for coming to our treehouse today and connecting with us here at Horizon. We hope you love this story as much as we do and leave the theatre today feeling satisfied and hopeful about the future. Let’s continue the worthwhile pursuit to seek out true connection with our fellow humans and the natural world.
Nora Frankovich, Assistant Producer • Lisa Adler, Co-Artistic Director
Special Thanks to our Community Partner TREES ATLANTA
Thanks also to our Partner, City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management
AUG 25-SEPT 24, 2023
Press Opening: SEPT 1, 2023
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 8:00 PM
Saturday at 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sunday at 5:00 PM
This play runs 90 minutes with no intermission.
Tickets start at $30 on Wednesdays & Thursdays, $35 for Friday nights, Saturday nights, and weekend matinees. Reserve now for best prices! Prices will increase as the run continues.
Student tickets available for $20. Contact our box office to place an order.
Bring your neighbors!
Group pricing is available for parties of 10+. Groups of 10-24 receive $3 off the general admission ticket price. Groups of 25+ receive $5 off the general admission ticket price. Call 404.523.1477 x100 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ticket prices are subject to change. Buy early for best pricing. Internet convenience fee added to all online orders. No refunds, exchanges, or late seating. Cannot combine discount offers.
Cast & Creatives
(click on an actor’s name for bio)
- Emery: MARIA RODRIGUEZ-SAGER*
- Hazel: MARY LYNN OWEN*
- Luanne: JADE’ DAVIS
- Luanne U/S: CLAIRE QUINN • LEAH THOMAS
- Director: JUSTIN ANDERSON
- Stage Manager: BRITTANY K. GILES-JONES*
- Scenic Designers: ISABEL & MORIAH CURLEY-CLAY
- Costume Designer: APRIL ANDREW CARSWELL
- Lighting Designer: DAVID REINGOLD
- Sound Designer: BAILEY I. GAFENEY
- Props Master: ASHLEY FOREMAN
*Member of Actor’s Equity Association