Cast: 2 women, 4 men
To live in Chagrin Falls, Oklahoma is to be in the killing business. The town’s major employers are a cattle slaughterhouse and a penitentiary where lethal injection is administered. Whether they work at the slaughterhouse, or play preacher or guard to death row inmates, or merely offer a bed and a hot meal to those visiting the prison, each resident of Chagrin Falls makes their living off of death and captivity.
A week prior to a particular execution, an Asian-American graduate student comes to town—purportedly to do a story on a man who is scheduled to die. As this would-be journalist interviews a cross-section of the population she finds her subjects revealing far more than their opinions on capital punishment. She is repelled by the recently-retired slaughterhouse employee’s morbid humor and his strangely intense interest in her background. She is seduced by one prison guard’s painful tale of sacrifice, and is comforted by the naïveté and kindness of another. Though she never gets what she came for, when she witnesses the execution she becomes one of them: a participant in the killing, an honorary resident of Chagrin Falls.
Chagrin Falls can be downloaded on New Play Exchange.
Chagrin Falls premiered at Stage Left Theatre in Chicago under the direction of Kevin Heckman. It won the 2002 American Theatre Critics Association Osborn Award and was a finalist for their Steinberg Award. Chagrin Falls also received Joseph Jefferson and After Dark Awards for Best New Work, as well as a Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best Production, and First Prize in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition.